Sky F1 reporter Ted Kravitz pondered whether Mercedes wanted to power Fernando Alonso again to assess him as a Lewis Hamilton alternative.
Just days after Sebastian Vettel had announced his retirement from Formula 1 at the end of 2022, Aston Martin shocked the world of Formula 1 by confirming Fernando Alonso as his replacement.
It means that Alonso will leave Alpine and return to a Mercedes-powered team for the first time since 2007, when he was team-mate to Lewis Hamilton at McLaren, for what was Hamilton’s rookie campaign.
Hamilton still appears committed to Formula 1 and Mercedes, his performances and results on an upward trajectory as Mercedes look to recover lost ground following the regulatory overhaul. Hamilton is under contract with the team until the end of 2023.
However, Kravitz suggested that in case Hamilton does call time on his career in the near future, did Mercedes want Alonso with a team that they power in order to get a closer look at him?
George Russell is very much seen as the future star to lead Mercedes forward, but with no junior driver yet close to a Formula 1 breakthrough, perhaps Mercedes wants to assess whether Alonso is still up to the task and could possibly deliver in their car if the need to replace Hamilton arises.
“What it also does do is reunite Fernando with the Mercedes engine family, which I think is an interesting angle,” Kravitz told Sky Sports News.
“Fernando hasn’t been powered by Mercedes since he left McLaren the first time round under a bit of a cloud 15 years ago.
“So, this would have needed a sign-off from Toto Wolff, which it obviously got. Is it ridiculous to think that Mercedes wanted Fernando back in their family just to see what he was like?
“Should Lewis decide he was to leave for whatever reason, and they need a world champion to put alongside George, would it not be the end of the world if Mercedes had a bit of visibility in what Fernando was like, even as a 41-year-old?
“You might have thought that was unlikely, but as this announcement proves – anything is possible in F1!”
The known fact at this stage is that Alonso has signed for Aston Martin on a multi-year deal, a team intent on title success in the near future, but currently ahead of only Williams in the Constructors’ Championship.
So, with Alonso now 41 years of age, Kravitz finds the whole situation “a bit odd”.
“It’s fairly standard Fernando Alonso career behaviour that he is betting on a marked improvement in the next three years!” Kravitz commented.
“That is, though, the other thing I find slightly perplexing about the whole thing, that at best it’s going to take three years for Aston Martin to be able to win races and challenge for championships. By which point, Fernando will be 44.
“He’s fit as a fiddle and he’s as into F1 as he ever was, his break refreshed him, and he’s not running out of steam like Sebastian Vettel has. But, really?
“And is that to suggest Alpine were never going to get there? Or is he just looking for one more team to see what he could do, a different challenge? It is all a bit odd.”
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