Motor racing-Alpine in talks with Ocon to extend contract

FILE PHOTO: Formula One F1 - Monaco Grand Prix - Circuit de Monaco, Monte Carlo, Monaco - May 19, 2021 Alpine's Esteban Ocon during a press conference ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix Pool via REUTERS/Sebastien Nogier

(Reuters) - Alpine are keen to extend the contract of French driver Esteban Ocon to keep their line-up unchanged next year, the Renault-owned Formula One team's CEO Laurent Rossi said on Thursday.

Spain's double world champion Fernando Alonso, making a Formula One comeback this year at the age of 39 and after two years out, is 24-year-old Ocon's team mate and has a deal that includes 2022.

Ocon also has links to champions Mercedes, who have both seven-times world champion Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas out of contract at the end of the year but Britain's George Russell waiting for his chance.

"Esteban is doing everything to make me consider keeping him in the team. I would be remiss if I didn’t think about it," Rossi told reporters at the Monaco Grand Prix.

"At the moment, we are already engaged in some conversations with his agent, his management team, Mercedes at large."

Ocon has scored more points than Alonso (10-5) and out-qualified him 3-1. He took his debut podium, a second place, with what was then the Renault team in Bahrain last season.

French driver Pierre Gasly, a race winner with Red Bull-owned AlphaTauri, has also been linked to Alpine in the media but Rossi indicated he was not being considered for the immediate future.

"We’re not looking at any drivers (from outside the team) for next year," said the CEO.

"At the moment, I’m considering obviously Esteban...(and) Fernando is here next year with us. So if we want to carry on the momentum we have, we’ll do that."

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Ed Osmond)

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