It has been a busy few days for Aston Martin, who have efficiently dealt with Sebastian Vettel’s announcement of retirement from Formula 1 at the end of the current season.
Aston Martin seem to have swapped one world champion for another, as it will be none other than Fernando Alonso who will be claiming the empty seat at Aston left behind by Vettel.
The two-time champion of the sport has agreed to join the team on a multi-year contract from the beginning of 2023. On Monday, August 1, right as the F1 summer break began, Aston Martin announced that the Spaniard had signed his name on the dotted line.
“This Aston Martin team is clearly applying the energy and commitment to win, and it is therefore one of the most exciting teams in Formula 1 today,” said Alonso, before going on to say “No-one in Formula 1 today is demonstrating a greater vision and absolute commitment to winning, and that makes it a really exciting opportunity for me.”
Aston Martin Team Principal Mike Krack added: “I have witnessed the excitement in the engineering team and throughout the whole organisation at the opportunity to work with Fernando. We know that nearly everyone can learn from someone of Fernando’s calibre and experience.
However, not every member of the paddock is particularly enthused about Alonso’s move, especially certain members of his current team. Alpine boss Otmar Szafnauer said that the Spaniard’s decision caught the team by surprise, and that it may have been caused by a contractual dispute.
Szafnauer said Alpine offered a deal for 2023 with an option for 2024, but 41-year-old Alonso “wanted something longer”. However, Alpine are concerned that Alonso’s performance may worsen as he grows older.
Szafnauer also said that Alonso had assured him while leaving the Hungarian Grand Prix on Sunday night that they would continue their contractual talks in the coming days, only for Aston Martin’s press release to arrive on Monday morning.
The Alpine boss admitted that he was aware of Aston Martin’s interest in Alonso following Sebastian Vettel’s announcement of retirement at the end of the season, and that he had seen Alonso and Aston team owner Lawrence Stroll leaving the Aston Martin motorhome together last weekend in Hungary.
“I was confident even with the discussions – there is nothing wrong with exploring – that we were very close (to a deal),” Szafnauer said, before adding “I did ask the question, but I was told ‘no I haven’t signed anything’. So I was a bit surprised.”