On the eve of the 2022 season, Fernando Alonso has spoken about his surprise departure to the Aston Martin Racing Formula 1 team. The Spaniard, who will be leaving Alpine, confided that he no longer felt confident enough to continue with his current team. “I told myself that it was the right thing to do”, he told L’Equipe. The Spaniard further admits he cut out his manager Flavio Briatore.
It’s back to work for the paddock. After a three-week break, F1 will be back in Spa-Francorchamps this weekend for the fourteenth round of the season. But it is fair to say that the holidays have not been boring. There has even been a lot of turbulence in the driver market with one of the silliest silly seasons for many years.
Kick started with Sebastian Vettel retiring, then the departures of Fernando Alonso from Alpine and Daniel Ricciardo from McLaren, have been made official. Alonso, who will take over at Aston Martin, revealed the reasons for his departure on Thursday.
“I received a call from the team after Sebastian announced his retirement. We talked and came to an agreement, quickly. I think their project is very attractive,” he told L’Equipe.
“I had the feeling that it was a good project for the future. I said to myself that it was the right thing to do (…) And of all the options I had for next year, I think that this was the best one, that this project has the assets that in F1 allow you to win. We will see if we can make this project a success quickly”.
The Spanish driver also revealed that the first discussions went back to Hungary, and that an agreement was “quickly found”.
“Aston Martin really wanted to hire me, and had confidence in my ability to develop their project. And I thought that if I left, Alpine could offer my seat to a young driver, like Oscar (Piastri). It was a win-win situation”, he added, assuring that his first intention was to stay with Alpine.
It appears that the problem was, although negotiations were progressing on an extension, Alpine and Alonso could not agree “on the main thing”, hinting that money was the issue.
“It’s a difficult feeling to describe, but I had the feeling that Aston Martin really wanted me, and appreciated my performance for the last two years,” added the Spaniard to L’Equipe, who was keen to point out that he had spoken about his decision to leave to Laurent Rossi, Alpine’s CEO, Luca de Meo, Renault’s boss, his mechanics and engineers.
Finally, Alonso said that Flavio Briatore, his former manager, had not been involved in the negotiations.
His team-mate, Esteban Ocon, said he was “sad to see Fernando leave”.
“We were building something great, it was going in the right direction,” continued the Frenchman.
“But I’m sure the team will find a driver next to him who will still help us to make progress with this car,” he concluded, personally wanting German Mick Schumacher (Haas): “He’s a good friend, but it’s up to the team to decide.”
Alpine had announced the day after Alonso’s departure was made official that his reserve driver Oscar Piastri would be his replacement. But the 21-year-old Australian immediately denied this and is expected to drive for McLaren next year.