2023 could have been quite a different year for Fernando Alonso, had Alpine moved just a little bit faster…
Last year’s Hungarian Grand Prix was a time of turmoil for Fernando Alonso, as he weighed up whether or not to depart Alpine for Aston Martin.
At the time, the move looked like a step back, given the respective performances of the teams, only for Aston Martin to take a big step forward in 2023 – a move that resulted in Alonso scoring multiple podiums in the opening half of the year.
Fernando Alonso: I didn’t get a concrete offer from Alpine
A year on from the critical decision to leave Alpine for Aston Martin, Alonso revealed that he had never received a proper offer from Alpine but, if he had, he would have committed to Enstone once again.
“Last year was quite a stressful Grand Prix here [Hungary] in terms of emotions, with that offer from Lawrence [Stroll],” he is reported as having told NextGen in an interview. “But yes, it was a good decision, a lucky decision and I’m glad I made it.
“In fact, it wasn’t a choice, because I didn’t receive any concrete offer from Alpine. Just words. If I’d had an offer from Alpine at the start of the year, I would have signed it, that’s for sure. But I only had one offer and I accepted it.
“At Alpine, last year, I would have signed up.”
He said similar to Spanish publication AS, revealing that Alpine were more interested in junior driver Oscar Piastri – the Australian ending up in his own contract dramas shortly after as he signed with McLaren.
“I was more or less happy, but no offer ever came,” Alonso said.
“They were always looking for Piastri, for things like that, and as no offer came in the end this one came. And it was a stroke of luck for my career.”
As for the environment within each team, Alonso revealed that his new surroundings suit him more than the atmosphere he left behind him.
“It’s been a year, a cycle in which we return to Hungary with very good things for everything the change to Aston Martin has meant,” he told AS.
“A team with such a good and positive dynamic, with great ambition, a team in which I feel loved after a year or two with Alpine in which I had to row against the current. When you’re in a working environment where you feel valued and respected, as I feel here in Aston, it changes the level of benefit you can give to the team.”
But, despite that, Alonso wishes the best for his former team, with whom he won his two World Championships as Renault back in 2005 and ’06. He also believes the A523 is a much more competitive car than the team’s current points tally indicates.
“I don’t think the Alpine is a slow car,” he commented.
“It’s a very fast car, as you saw at Silverstone, where Pierre [Gasly] was glued to my rear wing for over 30 laps.
“Performance changes very quickly from track to track and I’ll be happy if I see Alpine going fast in the future. In the long term, I think Aston Martin is a good project and I’m happy with that, but I’m sure there will be many more battles against them.”
What does the future hold for Fernando Alonso?
As the eldest driver on the F1 grid, it’s a question of when, and not if, Alonso decides to call time on his career. Will it be at the end of his current deal at the conclusion of 2024, or has he the determination and fitness to keep going on into the next regulation cycle from 2026?
“Next year I will start to be a bit more interested,” he said, when asked about his future.
“Right now I’ve thought about it, of course, I’ve talked about it with the team, of course. But we have postponed it to the summer of 2024.
“If it was now the summer of next year, I would say yes, I am interested to see what happens in 2025, we are going to have a new wind tunnel at Aston Martin and there are things that are appealing, that are attractive, and I feel strong and energetic now. I’m not weighed down by travel or training, I’m looking forward to it.
In the two weeks since Silverstone, I was looking forward to getting in the car and driving. But there are times, and I’ve had them in my career, when you’re a little bit saturated with travelling, with racing. If you have a long-term commitment, it can weigh you down. I prefer to enjoy it and, if I enjoy it, to renew every year.”
Does he still see himself as capable of adding a third title onto his record?
“If not, I wouldn’t race,” he said.
“There are a lot of sacrifices behind a Formula 1 season, a lot of travelling, a lot of preparation, and it’s all with a goal of being world champion. Also, with experience, you know that in Formula 1 you need other things than your personal ambition or your desire to achieve things. To be in the right place at the right time.
“I’m in a good place, in a good moment, but I’m not obsessed either. Let’s start, hopefully, with a win. And then, if I win the third title or not, it will depend on things that are out of my reach.”