Aston Martin boss explains Alonso signing

Fernando Alonso

The combination of speed, experience and hunger from Fernando Alonso is what drove Aston Martin to offer him a Formula 1 contract for next season.

Alonso will join the Silverstone-based operation on a multi-year deal starting in 2023 following a two-year stint with Alpine.

His switch was announced on the Monday following the Hungarian Grand Prix, a rapid response to the retirement of Sebastian Vettel which was only confirmed the previous Thursday.

It has triggered a flurry in the driver market and flushed out the contract saga between Alpine and McLaren surrounding Oscar Piastri.

At 41, Alonso is the oldest driver on the Formula 1 grid, and by the end of the season will have overhauled Kimi Raikkonen as the driver with the most starts in the sport’s history.

While closer to the end of his career than the start, Aston Martin team boss Mike Krack believes he still has much to offer.

“Unique qualities that are not very common in the paddock; it’s the combination of speed, hunger and experience, ”Krack said when asked what made Alonso attractive.

“I think the more experienced drivers get, maybe the other two are missing a little bit.

“In this case, we have the combination of the three and that for us make him the perfect candidate.”

It many ways it’s a like-for-life replacement for Vettel, with a four-time world champion being replaced with another highly credentialed and experienced driver capable of pushing the team forward.

According to Krack, that is no accident.

“For us to make the next step, it’s super important to have a driver of this caliber, such as champions,” he explained.

“They push you, they push you to the limits on and off the track.

“So that is, for us, super, super important for us to grow as a team, as a structure. From that point of view, he was the ideal candidate. “

The switch to Aston Martin was something of a shock move, with Alonso expected to remain at Alpine for at least another season.

However, negotiations had stalled, or at least slowed, to the point where the Spaniard was left with the impression the squad was less than serious about retaining him.

Whispers of a potential switch began to circulate over the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend with discussions moving quickly.

Such was the speed that Alpine was left with little to no time to react, a point which has exacerbated its plight with Piastri.

Despite the headaches that have followed for the Enstone squad, team boss Otmar Szafnauer harbors no ill-feeling towards Alonso.

“No, not at all,” he said when asked if he felt let down.

“He’s a free agent. There’s no obligation on Fernando’s part to do anything else other than what he’s right to do for himself.

“I always say a deal has to be good for both sides, and if he found a deal that was better for him, then he should pursue it.

“We put our best foot forward,” he added.

“We had negotiations with him in good faith and we thought we were close to having a deal that was good for both sides.

“But, no, he was a free agent and was free to do what he did.”

While Alonso’s future is known, the same cannot be said of Alpine’s driver line-up for 2023.

The Contract Recognition Board met on Monday to discuss the claims of both Alpine and McLaren over Piastri for the coming season, with its findings expected within the next 24 hours.

Regardless, it is unlikely the Australian will partner Esteban Ocon next year, with Pierre Gasly and Daniel Ricciardo the front-runners for the drive.

Piastri meanwhile will almost certainly end up at McLaren regardless of the outcome of the CRB, though likely to be somewhat more expensive should that finding be in favor of Alpine.