SportF1How the signing of Alonso by Aston Martin for...

How the signing of Alonso by Aston Martin for F1 2023 was conceived

On Sunday night, as the Hungaroring paddock filled with people, all eyes at Alpine were turned towards the summer break, and what were expected to be short talks to secure a new contract for Alonso.

Team principal Otmar Szafnauer seemed relaxed when sharing Alonso’s comment from earlier this weekend that it would probably take just 10 minutes to get things done.

“It’s very simple,” he said of his vision of how the negotiations would take place.

Szafnauer insisted that the most important issues in the contract (including the duration of the contract) were resolved and that it was only a matter of details. But there was an intriguing pause when asked if money was one of the main areas where the two sides remained far apart.

But the Alpine boss replied: “Not just Fernando. Every driver I’ve negotiated with, the question of money has come up. And other things as well.”

“But yeah, for whatever reason, they want as much money as possible and we want to pay as little as possible. And then we end up in sort of an unhappy place for everyone, or a happy place where everyone is willing to sign.” “.

Unbeknownst to Szafnauer , however, the wheels were already turning elsewhere. In fact, Alonso was not going to continue negotiating with Alpine, since he was determined to sign for Aston Martin.

After a weekend of intense efforts by Alonso and Aston Martin to keep the deal secret, it was finally announced to the entire team and made public on Monday morning.

Fernando Alonso, Alpine A522 y Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin AMR22, en el desfile de pilotos

Fernando Alonso, Alpine A522 and Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin AMR22, in the drivers’ parade

Behind the scenes, it emerged that Aston Martin and its owner, Lawrence Stroll , had been hard at work for several days to put together a package good enough to convince Alonso to commit now, without dragging things out until summer.

It was a drastic change of plans for the team. For many weeks, Aston Martin had focused on continuing Sebastian Vettel, but knew the German was evaluating whether or not he wanted to continue in F1.

Aston Martin stayed true to Vettel for as long as possible, but when the four-time world champion finally told team management on Wednesday before Hungary that he wanted to retire, he knew he couldn’t sit idly by and risk ending a second rate option because other better options had gone elsewhere.

So instead of keeping Vettel’s retirement intentions a secret until much later in the season, the wheels turned to make the information public as soon as possible. It had a double benefit : it served to take a weight off Vettel, but also to make it clear to every driver on the grid that there was a vacant seat.

In practice, Aston Martin played its part in the driver market to find out who was available and what the interest was. Those who wanted the seat would obviously get in touch; and Alonso was one of them.

The Spaniard, whose talks with Alpine had stalled and were due to be resolved over the summer, suddenly found himself in a situation where he went from having a possible new contract at Alpine to a definite one at Aston Martin. As he said on Thursday when asked if the Aston Martin seat was an option: “Every team is an option, as long as they don’t have two drivers signed.”

“My priority is being with Alpine because, you know, we’ve been working and developing this project together for two years.”

“We’re getting more and more competitive. And probably my wish is to stay. But no, you know, we sit down and we move things forward. So still, everything is going on.”

Fernando Alonso, Alpine F1 Team A522, y su compañero, Esteban Ocon, Alpine F1 Team A522

Fernando Alonso, Alpine F1 Team A522, and his partner, Esteban Ocon, Alpine F1 Team A522

In hindsight, the use of that word “probably” is intriguing. It is known that, at that time, there had still been no formal talks with Aston Martin management. But, once the Vettel news broke and the possibility of a change became a real option, things moved incredibly fast.

From Aston Martin’s point of view, it was obvious that whatever was necessary had to be done to convince Alonso to join the structure, as they were well aware that there was a very narrow window of opportunity before he could land. on another computer. Let’s also not forget that there is some history between Stroll/Aston Martin and Szafnauer….

There may have been easier driver options available for the team elsewhere, such as Mick Schumacher and Nico Hulkenberg, but they didn’t fit the level of ambition team owner Lawrence Stroll has for his squad to win world championships. And in the end, while Aston Martin’s results on the track this year aren’t brilliant, it’s the ambitions of the Silverstone structure that probably spoke loudest for Alonso to finally commit to.

No other team is experiencing increased investment and infrastructure improvement like Aston Martin at the moment, which has new sponsors, new technology partners, and is pushing its new factory and wind tunnel plans hard. .

Alonso, a man motivated by winning in F1 and not simply racing in the middle zone, knows well that money still buys a lot in the sport and can see the potential in what Aston Martin has planned for the future. Alpine has already gone through its biggest investment phase since Renault took over as constructor again, and now it could be a case of diminishing returns.

Without a doubt, Aston Martin can be a great bet for Alonso who, at 41, has probably made the last roll of the dice in his F1 career if he really wants to get back to the front. But he was very clear in Hungary, with prophetic words explaining that, outside of the big three teams at the moment, all the drivers take risks to find the right place.

“There is no crystal ball that I can choose with,” he said of the need to be in a winning car. “I guess now, with these regulations, it seems that Ferrari, Red Bull and Mercedes are the only teams capable of winning races.

“So if you have an opportunity for 2023 with those three teams, you will try to join forces. But if there is no such opportunity, you just have to trust some of the projects, who are maybe wanting to be more competitive next year. That’s it. what I expect”.

Fernando Alonso, equipo Alpine F1

Fernando Alonso, Alpine F1 team

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