Pedro de la Rosa: Fernando Alonso moved ‘for the best project, not the most money’

Thomas Maher
Alpine's Fernando Alonso on the grid at the Hungarian Grand Prix. Budapest, July 2022.

Alpine's Fernando Alonso on the grid at the Hungarian Grand Prix. Budapest, July 2022.

Pedro de la Rosa believes Fernando Alonso’s move to Aston Martin is fuelled by his competitive streak, not a pay cheque.

The Spaniard believes his compatriot Alonso’s surprise move to join Aston Martin is evidence of his belief the team are on an upward trend and not merely fuelled by wanting a lucrative contract.

Alonso will be Sebastian Vettel’s replacement at Aston Martin in 2023, with confirmation of his switch being made a few days after Vettel announced his retirement from F1.

The move from Alpine to Aston Martin is somewhat surprising, given it is an apparent step down in competitiveness based on their current performance levels, with the reasoning for the move seemingly down to Alpine not being willing to offer Alonso a contract longer than for one season.

With significant investment being pumped into the Aston Martin project by Lawrence Stroll, De la Rosa believes Alonso is making the move based on confidence in where the project is going on a long-term basis.

“The most important thing for a driver is to get on a winning project, sooner or later. The investment and ambition of Aston Martin shows,” he told Spanish radio station La Cadena SER.

Alonso’s arrival is also set to result in a bolstering of the team’s engineering staff, according to the former racer turned broadcaster: “As an engineer, you will go to the best project, not the one that pays you the best. His arrival means attracting more talent to an ambitious project.”

Fernando Alonso during qualifying. Hungary July 2022.
Alpine driver Fernando Alonso in the cockpit during qualifying. Hungary July 2022.

‘El Plan’ remains in place

The jokey-but-still-serious plan that Alonso made upon his return to F1 in 2021, which he dubbed ‘El Plan’, appears to have hit a stumbling block with the, at best, sideways move from Alpine to Aston Martin.

Team aerodynamicist Raul Martin Santiago, appearing with De la Rosa on the programme, believes Alonso’s switch is just the next step in his process of trying to return to the top of F1.

“This is how it is, it is a medium-long term project,” he said. “He will not arrive and start winning everything, but we are ambitious.”

Intriguingly, he also revealed Alonso had not been mentioned internally within the Aston Martin ranks as a possible replacement for Vettel.

“They sent us an email in the morning, shortly before it came out in the media,” he said.

“Internally, there was talk of [Mick] Schumacher or [Nicholas] Latifi, I didn’t think Alonso would come. I thought he would stay at Alpine. It’s shocking and hard to believe, but it’s reality!”