‘Interesting’ Fernando Alonso messages at centre of fresh Aston Martin warning

Jamie Woodhouse
Aston Martin's Fernando Alonso

Fernando Alonso explains Aston Martin's struggles.

As Fernando Alonso continues to shown signs of frustration, leading Formula 1 correspondent Lawrence Barretto warns Aston Martin that this is the last thing they need.

While Aston Martin were the feel-good story early in F1 2023 as they surged up the order, starting out as arguably the second-fastest team with Alonso hoovering up the podiums, since then the going has become quite a bit tougher.

Instead of consistently battling for podiums, Aston Martin seem to have now fallen behind McLaren, Mercedes and Ferrari, Alonso’s latest hint of frustration with the situation coming in Japan when he told his team over the radio that they were “throwing me to the lions” with their strategy call.

Disgruntled Fernando Alonso will “heap pressure” on Aston Martin

Alonso played down the narrative being created around his Suzuka radio messages, saying they were taken out of context, but Barretto senses the “level-headed” Alonso is slipping away, which is very bad news for Aston Martin.

He also believes team owner Lawrence Stroll will be far from happy, having had that carrot of performance dangled in front of him only to have it “ripped away”.

Put to him on The F1 Strategy Report that Aston Martin now look to be the fifth-fastest team, Barretto replied: “I think Fernando Alonso has realised this already that that’s probably where they are, based on those radio messages.

“I think it’s probably as far back as Canada maybe, things started to tail off a little bit. And they might have had a few peaks like that Netherlands race, but yeah, I think those heady days of being the second-best on the grid are long gone.

“I think that they’ve been out-developed by Ferrari, obviously out-developed by McLaren. I think that Mercedes, they’re really a difficult team to read, but they’ve been there or there abouts and then their consistency, experience has just helped them be ahead of Aston.

“On one side, you can’t be too hard on them, because they were seventh last year. If they end up shaking out being fifth, that’s still a step forward.

“But I think in Formula 1, when you make those kinds of steps like they made at the start of the year and you horn yourself into such an impressive position, you have to be disappointed, you have to be frustrated that you’ve then effectively lost three spots. So in gaining five, they’ve gone back three.

“And I think internally, Lawrence Stroll won’t be happy with that, because you’ve almost given him a bit of the carrot, and then you’ve ripped it away from him halfway through the year. And he just won’t be happy with that kind of form.

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“I think it’s very interesting that Fernando is becoming more vocal on the radio, because even in the difficult days earlier in the season, when they didn’t get everything right, he was level-headed and he was cool and he was playing the team game.

“But more of those messages are creeping through. And if they’re creeping through, it’s because he’s frustrated by what he’s seeing, what he’s feeling, what they’re doing.

“And I think that’s quite a difficult spot for Aston Martin if you’re the team principal or the engineers, because a frustrated Fernando Alonso is only going to heap the pressure on everyone in that team. And that’s not what they need right now. They need calm, clear heads to try and understand what was going wrong.”

Aston Martin form sign of a trend to come?

There was a time before their return to the summit that Red Bull developed a reputation of ending a season strongly, but paid for the damage of a slow start.

Barretto, then, will be watching Aston Martin with intrigue to see if they become the reverse of that, a team that comes out of the blocks strong, but cannot sustain that performance.

“I’m really interested to see how the rest of the season plays out, but what impact that has on next year,” Barretto continued.

“Because what Aston Martin won’t want to happen, is to become one of those teams where they start the season strongly, and then they disappear. And that is just what they do.

“We’ve seen that in the the past, Red Bull used to be a team which I think they used to start poorly and then they used to finish strongly. So it could just be that Aston Martin are going to fall into this routine.

“They are the fifth-best now, that’s still a step forward, they’re still well clear of the rest of the midfield. But I think they need to understand why they were able to start so strongly and then why they don’t seem to understand why the upgrades that they’ve bought haven’t really delivered. That’s probably the most concerning thing of everything.”

McLaren are now homing in fast on Aston Martin’s P4 spot in the Constructors’ Championship, the gap down to 49 points with six rounds of F1 2023 remaining.

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