Aston Martin had a good 2023. Yes, there were ups and downs but overall, it was a strong showing for a team that were more often at the back of the grid. At the AMR24 launch, Aston Martin were confident about taking the fight to Red Bull but their star driver, Fernando Alonso, while committed to Aston Martin, knows if things don’t work out, he has a Plan B.
During the second half of 2023, Aston Martin’s podium count started to decrease. There were “upgrades” that made the car slower and eventually they were overtaken by McLaren in the Constructors’ Championship. Technical director, Dan Fallows, justified the slump in form as part of decisions made for long-term gains.
“I think it’s no secret that we took a pragmatic approach to the end of last season,” Fellows told the media. “We wanted to make sure that we used every opportunity to really learn the lessons that we needed to learn on AMR23.
“We had effectively a kind of glorified test session almost in some of the races. But it was important for us to do that.
“We recognised that we needed to do something that was going to teach us lessons for 2024 and we did. And I think to come out of that having achieved good performances towards the end of the season, culminating in a podium in Brazil and [fifth] place [in the championship], which was a great result for us, and then to come out of that and then to obviously have that momentum going into this year, I think that was the really key bit for us.
“Having been through that process and continuing that momentum into ’24, I think gives us a lot of confidence going into this season.”
Fernando Alonso: “I Am Probably Attractive to Other Teams”
While Aston Martin are confident, Fernando Alonso is keeping his options open. He wants to win a championship and, due to his age (42), he doesn’t have the time to commit to a multi-year project that may or may not pay off. In this context, Alonso has said that Aston Martin are Plan A, but Mercedes might just be Plan B.
“I’m aware of my situation, which is very unique,” Alonso told the media. “There are only three world champions on the grid… I’m probably the only one available for ’25, so I have a good position.
“But at the same time, when I make the decision, if I want to keep racing or not for the future, first and only talk that I will have at the beginning is with Aston Martin, because that will be my only one priority.”
What it comes down to for Alonso is whether he will continue in Formula 1, move to another series, or retire. The Spaniard hasn’t decided what his future holds just yet, but when he does make a decision, he wants Aston Martin to be the first he sits down with.
“There are a couple of phases that I need to go through,” he explained. “First of all, I need to decide myself what I want to do for the future if I want to commit my life, again for a few more years to this sport, which I love.
“I love driving. I’ve been driving all over winter… So I love Formula 1, but generally I love driving. So if it’s not Formula 1, I will find myself happy in any other form of motorsport and maybe having more time for my private life, which is also very important, at this age. But this is a decision that I need to do with myself.
“I need to think, and I need to commit to a team, eventually, and make sure that I understand the next few years of my life it will be that team 100% of the time. Once I do that decision I want to sit with Aston Martin and say okay I make these decisions.”
Alonso added that he feels “part of this project very much” but knows that if he can’t reach an agreement with the team that he’s an attractive option to the other teams.
“But if we cannot reach an agreement and I want to commit to race in Formula 1 I know that I have a privileged position I am probably attractive to other teams, the performance that they saw last year, the commitment. And as I said there are only three world champions on the grid and there is only one available.”
This wouldn’t be the first time Alonso has played coy on his F1 future, always keeping his cards close to his chest. Only time will tell what Alonso will decide.