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Alpine's Otmar Szfanauer has provided insight into contract negotiations with Fernando Alonso, admitting the team's reluctance to offer a long-term deal stemmed from his age. 

As he stated in multiple interviews, Fernando Alonso's preference was to secure a long-term extension with Alpine.

However, Szafnauer explained that there were concerns the Spaniard's level could decline over time, as quoted by motorsport.com:

"We offered a 1+1 deal, and we discussed with Fernando that: look, if next year at this time, you're performing at the same level, of course, we will take you. And that could have carried on. 

"But I think he wanted more certainty, independent of performance. I think that was the crux of the 1+1 as opposed to the 2+1 or 3+1 or three years [contract being offered]."

Alpine underestimated the importance Alonso placed on security in his next contract, whilst also overlooking the possibility of another team offering Alonso the terms he wanted. 

Aston Martin's willingness to match the World Champion's demands - alongside Alonso's serious consideration of Aston Martin - evidently caught the French team off guard.

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"There does come a time where something happens physiologically to a driver, and you don't have the same abilities you did when you were younger. 

"I think it happened to Michael. I think it's fair to say Michael Schumacher at 42 was not the same driver he was at 32 or 35, and it happens to other sportsmen too.

"So we were in favour of 'yes. if you're performing to a high level, for sure, we'll keep you. But let's do it one year at a time', and I think he wanted a longer duration", concluded Szafnauer.

Though it is rare for drivers in F1 to perform at such a high level over the age of 40, it is unlikely Alonso will suffer a sudden loss of ability when considering his performances after a two-year absence.

Age inevitably plays a part in F1, but there is a false equivalence between age and speed. Most drivers leave the sport as they enter their mid or late-30s, but that is not because they suddenly experience a loss in pace. 

Instead, it is because the volatile and turbulent nature of F1 - especially in the midfield - means sustaining a career for ten years is extremely difficult. 

The likes of Hulkenberg, Heidfeld and Kobayashi lost their seats in F1 because of factors completely unrelated to their age. 

Only elite drivers such as Alonso and Hamilton can continue in the sport for decades because it takes exceptional talent to avoid the unforeseen pitfalls that prevent drivers from signing new contracts.  

In any case, with Alonso gone, Alpine will need to lick their wounds and salvage what they can from this situation.