Fernando Alonso has been the driver many F1 fans have loved to hate during his Formula One career. He famously upset Honda whilst driving for McLaren a second time by describing their power unit as a “GP2 engine.”
Yet Fernando has turned on the charm in the last couple of seasons despite a fractious final year whilst driving for Alpine alongside Esteban Ocon. The Spaniard and the Frenchman were regularly at odds on track and Alonso coined a phrase for his team mate when unhappy with his on track behaviour.
Alonso calls Ocon “our friend”
“Our friend” was the whimsical term he used over team radio to refer to Ocon when he was upset with something Esteban did on track.
Alonso’s shock move to Aston Martin following Sebastian Vettel’s retirement saw him back as team leader within an F1 team as team mate Lance Stroll – son of billionaire owner – has performed poorly despite this being his 7th season at the top level of motorsport.
And Aston Martin delivered early in 2023 proving Fernando with a car he believed could win a race this year. Alonso had targeted Monaco and by the smallest of margins he was in fact denied a win in the principality as his team made the wrong call over a tyre change handing Verstappen the win.
Fernando is contracted to Aston Martin until 2024 but as with all F1 driver contracts there are except clauses should certain circumstances come about. Following Sergio Pérez’s extremely poor decision at turn one of his home Mexico Grand Prix paddock rumours quickly surged that Fernando was now being targeted to replace the Mexican driver at Red Bull Racing.
Fernando ‘best of the rest’ to Verstappen
With his seven podiums this season Alonso is one behind Sergio Pérez who of course is driving one of the most dominant cars ever seen in F1. Further Fernando is ahead on this count of Lewis Hamilton (6), Lando Norris (6), Charles Leclerc (4), Carlos Sainz (3 – but with the only non Red Bull win) and George Russell who has just 1 third place and is behind Oscar Piastri who now has a second and a third.
TJ13 suggested back in Singapore that a potential switch for Perez with Alonso may revive his career as the Mexican is well liked and delivered for th eSilverstone based team.
The paddock rumours in Mexico suggest this could become a reality though there are questions as to why Red Bull would make this call. Clearly should other teams close the gap to Red Bull, perez would become a liability very quickly and threaten the current world champions hopes of retaining their titles.
And while its certain Alonso would fair better than Perez there would be concerns that ‘old and nasty’ Fernando may return when he has a sniff of a third world championship.
Alonso: “I like being competitive”
In all probability Fernando will stay at Aston Martin and even potentially extend his contract beyond 2024, while Red Bull will promote the resurgent Daniel Ricciardo as and when its clear that Perez is more a liability than an asset.
Alonso spoke out over the rumours of his future telling Fox Sports, “I like being competitive, I like being fast and I hate to lose.
“So you see it’s not very hard to motivate me once I’m inside the car. Maybe now I’m a bit weaker than when I was 20 years old, but when you age you know your body way better.
“You know which training to do, when you feel tired, what things to avoid, and that is how you make up for it. You make up for strength with wisdom.”
McLaren remarkable recovery dents Alonso achievements
Fernando dodged the question about whether he would consider moving teams again only to insist he has no interest in retiring just yet.
“For now no, [I am not thinking of retirement]. I know I’m in the closing side of my career, but for now, I don’t see it. I don’t have a date to put an end to my career.”
Hopes were high for Aston Martin as early season they had the second quickest car to Red Bull with Alonso scoring five podiums in the first six races. However, a remarkable turnaround in McLaren’s competitiveness together with a number of failed Aston Martin upgrades, means both the team and driver are sliding down the tables.
“Honestly, we are not fighting for anything,” admits Fernando. “We will learn, even if we have to start from the pitlane, and you know that is more useful than just spending the weekend,” he told Autosport.
“In the constructors’ championship, we are locked in in the position we are. In the driver’s championship, we will lose a couple of places.”
Fans dream for Alonso v Verstappen
This is not ideal for Fernando who started by saying he loved being commutative, yet there is no guarantee Aston Martin will be so again next season.
“But I mean, it is incredible that we are in front of Ferraris, or George [Russell] or Lando [Norris] or whatever, but we will lose those positions. They have a very fast car. And yet, let’s see what we can do,” reflected the Spaniard.
For fans it would be a dream to see Fernando have one last roll of the dice in a car capable of winning titles, yet it appears an illogical step for Red Bull given they have Ricciardo looking back to form in the wings awaiting the call to join Max up on high.