Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer has revealed he only learned of Fernando Alonso's Aston Martin switch via the latter's press release.
Aston Martin announced the two-time F1 champion as its replacement for the retiring Sebastian Vettel on Monday.
Conceding he had assumed that talks had taken place, Szafnauer explained he had sought assurances from Alonso that no deal had been signed when leaving Hungary only 12 hours before his unveiling.
“It [the press release] is the first confirmation I had,” Szafnauer told select media.
"Obviously, when we’re in the paddock there are all sorts of rumours. I’d heard a rumour Aston were interested, and once you hear they are interested there are probably discussions that took place.
“There were some other indications that discussions took place, like walking out of the same motorhome at the same time, all that kind of stuff, which I saw.
“But I was confident that even with the discussions - there’s nothing wrong with exploring - we were very close.
"The first confirmation I had was the press release. I did ask the question [before leaving Hungary] and was told, ‘No, no, no I haven’t signed anything’.
"So, I was a bit surprised.”
Alpine were close to Alonso deal
Alpine believed it was close to securing a new deal that would keep Alonso with the team, with the driver himself claiming ahead of the weekend that negotiations would take '10 minutes'.
The team offered the Spaniard a one-year deal with an option for a second season but he wanted a longer-term guarantee, leading to Alonso ultimately deciding to change allegiances.
“There were just a couple of minor points outstanding he said his lawyer would get back to us on," added Szafnauer. "And I believed that to be the case.
“Before he left I confirmed with him we would be signing soon, and he said, ‘Don’t worry, I haven’t signed with anybody else, we’ll continue this in the next couple of days’.
"And then the next morning I saw the release from Aston.
“We were very, very close. We had what I thought was a fair contract on both sides and Fernando did too.
“It looks like he decided to do something else thereafter.”