‘Significant update’ at Aston Martin on horizon with ‘wake-up call’ issued

Oliver Harden
A close-up shot of Fernando Alonso in the Imola paddock

Is Fernando Alonso starting to look his age after an inconsistent start to the season for Aston Martin?

Fernando Alonso has described the Emilia Romagna and Monaco grands prix as a “big wake-up call” for Aston Martin, admitting it will require “a few races” to reverse the team’s downward F1 2024 trend.

Alonso and Aston Martin were the surprise package of the F1 2023 season, registering six podium finishes in their first eight races together following the two-time World Champion’s arrival from Alpine.

Fernando Alonso: Imola, Monaco ‘a big wake-up call’ for Aston Martin

Additional reporting by Pablo Hidalgo

Having gradually lost ground to Ferrari, McLaren and Mercedes over the last 12 months, the team’s pace has faded alarmingly in recent weeks with Alonso falling in Q1 at Imola and Monte Carlo.

Aston Martin’s downturn comes despite the team bringing a sizeable upgrade package to Emilia Romagna, where Alonso was slowest of all in qualifying following a crash in final practice.

Alonso, who recently signed a new contract until at least the end of F1 2026, made a rare admission in Monaco last weekend, telling media including PlanetF1.com that he has “not been driving well enough” since the Miami Grand Prix at the start of this month.

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And speaking to DAZN F1 Spain after the race in Monaco, Alonso acknowledged the last few weeks have served as a jolt for Aston Martin – but has backed the team to benefit from it over the long term.

He said: “These weekends have been crucial to understand our weaknesses, to understand the car, to improve.

“You always learn more from the difficulties than from the victories, because the problems go over the top with the euphoria.

“We are learning a lot and looking ahead to the rest of the year, 2025 and 2026.

“These two races have been a big wake-up call for the team and it will be very good for us.”

Alonso’s decision to start on the hard tyres was compromised almost instantly at the start in Monaco, where the first-lap accident involving Sergio Perez, Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg brought out the red flag.

With tyre changes permitted under red flag stoppages, that condemned the 42-year-old to spending the rest of the race nursing a set of mediums to the chequered flag.

Alonso described the call to start on hards as suicidal, but acknowledged the team were unlucky with the timing of the red flag.

He explained: “We tried everything we had to try to score some points. It was going to be difficult so we tried to stop with Lance [Stroll] one more time to give him fresh tyres to attack [Pierre] Gasly, but we couldn’t do that either. It was another weekend where we were unlucky again I think.

“The car wasn’t good enough for the points.

“I’m not saying we missed a golden opportunity, but when you go out on the hard tyre and extend the stint and all of a sudden there’s a red flag and you have to put the medium tyres on until the end of the race, it’s almost suicide because they have to last you 78 laps.

“That’s what I tried to do. They lasted, but at a very low pace.”

“Then bad luck too because after the accident Lance was P10 with one point but they repositioned all the cars and we were out again.

“There were some really lucky people today because they started on the mediums and were lucky enough to put the hard and go all the way, but we didn’t lose too many points today either.”

Alonso’s golden start to the F1 2023 season came to an end in Canada, where after finishing second to Max Verstappen he and Aston Martin went five races without a podium.

With Aston Martin struggling to hit the same heights in F1 2024, he fears the team will require another “significant update” to the AMR24 car to get back on track.

He said: “Last season we were on a sequence of circuits that were very favourable to our car. In Monaco we did P2, in Canada also P2 with a very strong pace.

“We came into this year with a different feeling and with some doubts after Imola and Monaco where we were not fast.

“We have to change this trend. It will take us a few races I think until we introduce a significant update to the car, but until then we have to give it our all and improve on track to achieve better results.

“Better days and worse days will come, but we have to stick together.”

Alonso’s comments come at a time Aston Martin have been heavily linked with a move for Mattia Binotto, the former Ferrari team principal.

Reports in Italy last week claimed Binotto, who has not held an active role in F1 since being replaced by Fred Vasseur at Ferrari in late F1 2022, spoke at length with team owner Lawrence Stroll at Imola with a view to joining the Silverstone-based outfit.

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