Fernando Alonso has been explaining how his switch to Aston Martin came about – and couldn’t help teasing Alpine over the Oscar Piastri situation in the process.
It was confirmed just one day after the Hungarian Grand Prix that Alonso would race for Aston Martin from 2023 onwards as part of a multi-year deal, replacing Sebastian Vettel, whose retirement was announced a few days earlier.
The news came as a surprise to many, and Alonso has now given an insight into how quickly the move came about.
“Everything started when Sebastian announced the retirement,” Alonso told media, including RacingNews365.com.
“I think Aston was waiting for that decision. They were happy with Sebastian to continue one more year. At the end, Seb decided to stop and they started calling some drivers that they were interested in.
“I was one of those and I [was] still available. We [started] talking on that weekend about the conditions I was expecting, about what they were expecting from me as well.
“We [met] quite quickly in our expectations and [fulfilled] all our wishes. On Monday morning, we signed, and we decided to announce quite quickly before any leak.”
Alonso reflects on what happened with Alpine
Alonso insists that he had been happy with how things had been unfolding at Alpine, but that his move came about when negotiations seemed to get stuck.
“Every press conference that I did so far this year, I was quite clear that I was happy with the progress that we are making as a team,” Alonso explained.
“It has been an incredible journey for me to come back into the sport with Alpine, which I consider my team, my family. We won so many things together, and that will be part of our history, not only the Renault group history, but also Fernando history.
“I was happy, but for one reason or other, we were not moving forward [for a] couple of months already.
“It seemed that it was a logical move for me, because Aston [were] very willing to help me and trust in my abilities on the track and off track, as well, to develop the project.”
Soon after Alonso’s move to Aston Martin was announced, Alpine stated that reserve driver Piastri would step up to replace him in 2023.
However, soon afterwards, Piastri released a statement of his own saying that he would not be racing for the team. It now looks likely that the Australian will join McLaren.
Alonso seemed to make a slight dig at this when he added: “It felt that, after all the negotiations and the months, having the seat available for a younger driver and talented driver like Oscar, it was the right thing to do, and [a] win-win situation for everybody.”
Alonso acknowledges “risk” of move
Aston Martin are currently far from the front of the grid, with the team sitting in ninth in the 2022 Constructors’ Championship.
Alonso admits that there are risks to the switch, but he feels confident that the right ingredients are in place for future success.
“I think for sure there are some risks [with] every decision you make in Formula 1,” the Spaniard said.
“No one has a crystal ball to guess the future. At the same time, in Formula 1 or in any sport, you win or you don’t. It doesn’t matter to be fourth or ninth or 13th – you are first, or you are not winning.
“I think all the Formula 1 teams and drivers, we are here to be on top, and I felt that, within the possibilities that I had on the table for next year, I think this one was the right one.
“The project has some ingredients for the future, that in Formula 1 normally are synonymous [with] success, when you invest and you have the best people.
“So let’s see if we can shortcut that time as much as possible, and make Aston Martin very fast, next year already.”
How Piastri’s presence affected things
When asked by Sky Sports F1 if the idea of keeping the seat warm for Piastri was a factor in him feeling less supported by Alpine, Alonso admitted: “It was.
“I’m trying to perform at my best. Every weekend, I try to give my best on track. We had an incredible journey [during these] two years, with the team, and we grew up a lot.
“When it seems that I have to be evaluated every year because my passport says [my] date of birth, it was a little bit strange to me.
“Other teams think differently. They trust in my abilities, and I’m happy with that.”