Fernando Alonso on age, motivation and starting at ‘zero’ with Aston Martin

Henry Valantine
A calm relaxed Fernando Alonso speaking with Aston Martin. Abu Dhabi November 2022 age

A calm relaxed Fernando Alonso speaking with Aston Martin on his first day of testing with the team at the post-season test. Abu Dhabi November 2022

Fernando Alonso has opened up about a variety of subjects on his future in Formula 1, acknowledging that his move to Aston Martin will see him start from ‘zero’ again next year.

Alonso left Alpine at the end of 2022 to begin a multi-year deal with the ambitious Aston Martin squad, who head into next season off the back of two consecutive seventh-place finishes in the Constructors’ Championship, but with significant investments being made in their infrastructure for the future.

The Spaniard broke the record for the highest number of race starts in Formula 1 history this season, ending the year with 355 to his name, with the 41-year-old showing no signs of wanting to give up life in the sport just yet.

Questions about his age have clearly become tiresome for the two-time World Champion, who continues to show his speed as a Formula 1 driver, and in fact, he thinks experience brings its own benefits – such as when he was able to get himself onto the front row in Canada earlier this year.

“Of course,” Alonso told Auto Motor und Sport when asked about whether or not there were advantages to being his age.

“I’ve driven on every circuit on the calendar 17 times. Some of my colleagues maybe only twice. There is not enough training time to compensate for this advantage.

“If a young driver were to overtake you on the last lap in a physically demanding race because he is a bit fitter, then age would be a disadvantage. But that never really happens.

“Otherwise, age only brings advantages. I can draw from a huge database of experience. In Montreal, we only did a few laps in the rain before qualifying.

“I know the track in the rain from the past, I must have driven there five or six times on a wet track. Does that suit me then?”

Fernando Alonso thinks he would beat his younger self

Alonso believes his more rounded experience overall would allow him to beat the version of him that raced when he won his second World title in 2006.

Not least because, as the Formula 1 driver with the most race starts in history, he has now raced through multiple iterations of the sport and knows what it takes to succeed in each one.

“In many areas,” he responded when asked how he feels he is better than his younger self. “I can read a race better today. I know when to attack and when not to. In 2006, tyre management hardly played a role. Today it does.

“With the pit stops today, it’s all about parking to the centimetre. With the fuel stops of yesteryear, it didn’t matter, you were standing around for 10 seconds anyway because of the refuelling. If I had to race against the Alonso of 2006, I’d beat him on those exact details.”

Motivation of third title keeps Fernando Alonso going

It is now 16 years since the Spaniard last won a World Championship, even though he has come close to achieving that third title on several different occasions since he last did so.

He made it clear that even the slightest chance of adding to his title glory is what is keeping his motivation going to continue racing in Formula 1, and his move to Aston Martin is the best chance for him to be able to facilitate that in the time he has left at the top level.

But if he cannot complete the job behind the wheel, he added he would still take pride in seeing it done from a non-driving role in the future.

“I love what I do,” he said. “Of course I would like to have a car with which I can race for the title, but there is no place for me there.

“From what was on the market, Aston Martin is one of the teams that can achieve that goal in two, three years.

“That’s important at my age. I don’t have forever. As long as there’s one per cent chance of taking the title again, I’ll keep going. And if it doesn’t work out as a driver, then maybe in a role outside the car.

“If we become World Champion then, that would also give me satisfaction because I could then say that I helped to build it. I’m happy to get into a new project and make it successful as soon as possible.”

Aston Martin are constructing their new Silverstone base in the hope of propelling themselves towards the front of the field in the coming seasons, with a series of high-profile hires having also been made for the team in the past two years.

Alonso knows he will be starting from scratch in building such a project with his new team after leaving Alpine, and thinks he was able to leave his mark on his now-former employers in a good way.

“It is zero. I am aware of that,” Alonso said of his clean slate with Aston Martin.

“Nevertheless, Aston Martin has a good platform. They have very good people and they are building a new factory with new tools.

“I’m leaving behind a lot of good things at Alpine that we’ve developed together over the last two years. It’s no secret that last year I had problems with the feedback of the power steering. Now it’s perfect.

“Every driver who has driven the Alpine since has praised the steering feedback. But that’s the advantage of hiring Alonso and the disadvantage of losing him.”

Read more: Adrian Newey details Renault’s role in limiting Red Bull’s progress back to the top