Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer has explained why Franz Tost's reluctance to surrender Pierre Gasly was music to his ears.
Gasly will race for Alpine next season after signing a contract with the French team just three months after he had agreed to a new extension to his deal with AlphaTauri.
The move arose after Alpine found itself in an unexpected situation when Fernando Alonso announced a shock move to Aston Martin and reserve Oscar Piastri declined a promotion, instead joining McLaren following a Contract Recognition Board hearing.
Speaking to selected media, including GPFans, in an end-of-season interview, Szafnauer said of the negotiations to sign Gasly: “I called Franz to say, can you release him?
"Franz said 'No', and so I said, ‘Well, great, I'm glad you said that’, because the last thing I wanted to hear is, 'Yes, I can't wait to get rid of this guy'.
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“He said, ‘No, I need him. He's a great driver. I don't want to’.
"I said ‘Thank you. With all due respect, do you mind if I call Helmut [Marko]? He might have a different perspective’. So I called Helmut."
Szafnauer aided Herta talks
Although Nyck de Vries was eventually signed as AlphaTauri's replacement for Gasly, Szafnauer took part in the initial talks to assist the Red Bull-owned team to sign IndyCar driver Colton Herta.
Despite a strong level of interest, the move ultimately failed given Herta was short on super licence points and the FIA was unwilling to allow an exception to the rules.
Szafnauer added: “At the same time, when I got to certain milestones, I would call Laurent [Rossi, Alpine CEO] and say ‘Look, this is what I've done. This is how far I've got. I now have to go to America and talk to Bryan Herta about a release’.
"I did that bit of it, too.
“I went and had lunch with Bryan and Colton, because the release was conditional upon them, Red Bull - and I get it - finding a replacement [for Gasly] they were happy with.
"Otherwise, they wouldn't have released him.”