Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko has labelled Fernando Alonso as the “surprise of the year” following the Spaniard’s announcement that he was leaving Alpine for Aston Martin.
Aston Martin made the announcement in early August to end the speculation following Sebastian Vettel’s decision to retire at the end of the season.
Despite turning 41 late last month, Alonso has shown no sign of slowing down and remains one of the most talented drivers on the grid.
He is 10th in the Drivers’ standings but this is perhaps not a true reflection of his performances this season having been let down by the reliability of the Alpine car. He hit a rich vein of form going into the summer break and has finished within the points in the last eight races.
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His performances have not gone unnoticed in the paddock either and Red Bull’s Marko has highlighted the Spaniard for praise.
The 79-year-old was speaking to Austrian newspaper Osterreich about Vettel’s retirement before saying that if the former Red Bull driver was unable to put his “hear and soul into it” then he should not go on.
“Vettel’s meticulousness was a perfect match for our DNA,” the Austrian said. “Everything worked together perfectly. Now he has other priorities, he can’t even make it onto the podium with his car. So it’s logical that he draws the consequences. If you don’t put your heart and soul into it, you can’t go on.”
The interviewer then asked if it was different with the 41-year-old Alonso to which Marko described his as the “surprise of the season.”
“He’s so fast. It’s unbelievable what kind of races he delivers, for me he’s the surprise of the year. As a driver, I even think he can still win races. The only question is whether Aston Martin can provide him with the right package.”
Marko was less complimentary about current title rivals Ferrari who he claimed only won in Austria because Red Bull were slow.
Ferrari broke a six-race run of Red Bull wins with Carlos Sainz’s maiden victory at the British Grand Prix before following it up with Charles Leclerc’s win at the Red Bull Ring in Austria.
Marko was not happy though and claimed it had less to do with the positives of the Italian team and more the negatives of his team.
“The fact that Ferrari won wasn’t because they were so fast, it was because we were too slow. Now we are doing everything we can to become competitive again.”