Two-time Formula One champion, Fernando Alonso, has signed a multi-year contract to race for Aston Martin from next season; the British team broke the news on Monday.
Following four-time Formula One world champion Sebastian Vettel’s retirement announcement last Thursday, rumors about who would step in for the German driver from 2023 have heated the drivers’ market.
However, on Monday, in a move that took the world of motorsport by storm, the British squad confirmed two-time Formula One champion, Fernando Alonso, agreed on a multi-year deal to drive for Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula One Team from next season, partnering with Lance Stroll.
The switch that shook the Formula One grid ahead of summer break has drawn a line in the drivers’ paths.
While one of the series’ finest champions will say farewell by the end of the season, the other keeps walking in the fast lane at the age of 41, performing at a high level and still hungry for what the future may bring.
“The recruitment of a special talent such as Fernando is a clear statement of intent from an organization that has committed to developing a winning Formula One team,” Aston Martin stated.
The car manufacturer returned to the pinnacle of motorsport in 2021 at the hands of Canadian businessman Lawrence Stroll, taking over the Racing Point F1 Team to end Aston Martin’s 61-year absence from the series.
On a parallel path, the Spaniard came back to F1 that same season, after a two-year hiatus, taking a third stint with the French factory team, Renault - rebranded in 2022 as Alpine F1 Team, alongside French driver Esteban Ocon.
Last year, Alonso signed a contract extension with Alpine until the end of the 2022 season, and though a contract renewal seemed likely - at least for one more season - Monday news has written a different story.
In that regard, the driver remarked: “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 One today.
“I have known Lawrence and Lance for many years, and it is very obvious that they have the ambition and passion to succeed in Formula One.”
Further asserting: “No one in Formula One today is demonstrating a greater vision and absolute commitment to winning, and that makes it a really exciting opportunity for me.”
Alonso captured both world championships with Renault in 2005 and 2006. An extremely competitive and gifted driver, he continued to impress outside the single-seater category.
During his time away from Formula One, he became a two-time 24 Hours of Le Man’s winner (2018 and 2019), driving for the Toyota Gazoo Racing team, sharing driver duties with teammates Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima in the LMP1 category.
Furthermore, he ventured into the famous Dakar Rally and contested twice the legendary race Indianapolis 500.
Back to F1, he fully committed to the new challenge, using experience as a card under his sleeve, showing that even if he is not behind a car able to compete at the front of the pack, the driver still does make the difference.
“I still have the hunger and ambition to fight to be at the front, and I want to be part of an organization that is committed to learning, developing, and succeeding,” he added.
“We all appreciate that there is much to be done to get to the front and that we must apply all our energies in working together to find performance.
“The passion and desire to perform that I have witnessed convince me to maintain my enjoyment and commitment to the sport. I intend to win again in this sport, and therefore, I have to take the opportunities that feel right to me.”
Alonso and Aston Martin in Review
Since returning to the sport, Aston Martin has aimed to build a competitive team, combining experience and youth, and so does Alpine F1.
Alonso and Ocon represent Alpine, while Vettel and Stroll took over the wheel at the team powered by Mercedes.
In 2021, behind the wheel of the Aston Martin AMR21, Vettel claimed their first podium finish together, a second place at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix held in Baku, his best result that season.
For his part, teammate Stroll scored a personal best sixth-place finish at the Qatar Grand Prix.
Meanwhile, Alpine Renault finished in 5th place, making progress as a team, despite struggling with reliability issues.
Alonso scored points in most Grand Prix while Ocon rose to the top of the podium at the Hungarian GP, recording his first win in the series.
Neither team reached the goal of being in a position to fight in the front, albeit, all in all, Alpine set off with the right foot.
Thus far into 2022, with the first 13 rounds of a 22-race season, in the rear mirror, Alpine stands 4th in the constructor’s championships and Aston Martin in 9th; the latter seems to struggle to find pace with the new regulations in place.
Lawrence Stroll (Executive Chairman) commented: “I have known and admired Fernando for many years, and it has always been clear that he is a committed winner like me.
“It seemed natural, therefore, to invite Fernando to be part of the development of a winning team, and we very quickly established in our recent conversations that we have the same ambitions and values, and it was logical and easy to confirm our desire to work together.”
Mike Krack (Team Principal) concluded: “The team has a new leadership focused on the development of AMR23 and we are all thrilled that they and our future projects will benefit from the knowledge and experience that Fernando will bring.”