‘Alonso’s passion for F1 shines blindingly bright’

Formula 1
Fernando Alonso celebrating with Aston Martin after the Sao Paulo Grand Prix.Reuters

Fernando Alonso’s passion for Formula 1 shone like a blinding light as he announced his decision to race on with Aston Martin until at least the end of 2026.

The Spanish two-time world champion will be 43 in July, and his new contract will mean he will be racing in F1 until at least the age of 45.

Alonso is rewriting the sport’s rule book, and the remarkable thing about it is that he does not even seem to consider it extraordinary.

“I felt I love too much driving that I cannot stop at the moment,” said Alonso. “The sacrifices you have to make are smaller than the passion I have for driving.

“I breathe F1, I live for F1, I train to be fit to drive F1, I eat to be fit to drive F1. It didn’t arrive the moment I felt the need to change lifestyle. I love what I do. I will not be happy sitting at home watching F1 because at the moment I still feel I should be there.”

On the performance front, there can be little doubt about that.

Alonso was one of the outstanding performers of last season, as Aston Martin made a remarkable leap from the middle of the pack to the front at the start of the year.

Six podiums in the first eight races followed, including some outstanding drives. And although the team’s performance level dropped in the second part of the season, Alonso’s did not.

His drive to third in Brazil at the end of the season, holding off Sergio Perez’s Red Bull for 16 laps and then re-passing it on the final lap after the Mexican had finally got by, was a masterpiece.

Alonso has made great play so far this season of saying he wanted to spend some time working out whether he wanted to carry on racing before deciding where to do that if the answer was yes.

It has not taken that long. Retirement, he added, “never went to my mind”.

Alonso said he decided after the third race of the season in Australia that he wanted to keep going. After that, staying with Aston Martin was the “natural decision and the logical thing to do”.

Aston Martin had offered him a new contract even before they had arrived in Melbourne. It did what Alonso wanted – offered him a long-term commitment, with a tidy salary, that underlined their commitment to him as a driver.

After a season like Alonso had in 2023, when he was arguably the second most impressive driver of the year after world champion Max Verstappen, they did not need any more convincing.

And it provided Alonso the backing he had not felt at Alpine, a management failure which led to his decision to leave the French team and join Aston in the first place back in the summer of 2022.

Alonso ‘felt most wanted’ at Aston Martin


Getty Images

The driver market is in flux at the moment, following Lewis Hamilton’s decision to move to Ferrari, and the internal ructions at Red Bull caused by allegations about team principal Christian Horner’s behaviour towards a female colleague.

Alonso had spoken to other teams, he admitted. He would not name them, but it’s no secret he meant Red Bull and Mercedes.

But, as he had said he would just a few weeks ago, Alonso made his own decision in his own time, not waiting for, or being rushed, by others.

“I felt the most wanted in Aston Martin,” said Alonso. “The other conversations were just light and maybe more time was needed, whereas in Aston there was a clear desire to work together and it was the same I had.”

He said the new contract was “the longest project I ever signed – it will keep me linked with Aston for many years to come. Let’s see how long I keep driving.”

Time was when it was felt that the late 30s were as long as a driver could go before he lost his edge. Now, Alonso will still be out there in his mid-40s, something that has not happened for a top driver since five-time world champion Juan Manuel Fangio in the 1950s.

“Yes, it is true,” he added. “I will be 45 and keep racing. If one day I feel not motivated, or feel I’m not fast, or not sharp, I have a relationship with Aston very honest and I will be the first one to raise my hand and say, ‘I have maybe lost here or there’, and we will find solutions.

“I don’t see that coming for the next few years.”

As evidence, he reiterated the point he made after Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix that it was “one of my best races ever”. And it took place five days ago.

Alonso even found time for a joke about the constant questions about his age as he added: “Lewis will have 40 years in January so maybe I will not be the only one 40-plus you will be talking about.”

The decision whether to stay in F1, he said, was more about whether he could still put up with the second-order aspects outside racing that he has never enjoyed.

“It was not the racing,” Alonso said. “Looking at the calendar, I was a little bit afraid that this would be heavy for me. There are all the commitments pre-season with the photo-shoots, car launch, all these things are quite demanding for drivers in general and. for me, in particular at this time in my career.

“So I said, ‘Let me go through that tough period as I call it, of marketing and media and things like that, and then that tough period of travelling and time zones and big plane (flights). If I feel I am not enjoying what I am doing, it is better to not keep racing. If I go through that and I love racing and all the rest is not heavy on me, I want to continue. Why not?’

“That was the first thing I wanted to clarify with myself.”

After that, Aston Martin’s relative competitiveness, its steady stream of upgrades so far this season, continuing growth as a team – with a new wind tunnel at their new factory coming on stream later this year – and the prospect of working again with Honda when the Japanese company becomes their engine partner in 2026, were enough to convince him it was the right place to be.

“My biggest concern or the bad side of driving was missing my family and not having a normal life or my own family at one point or whatever,” added Alonso. “But in this regard I said, ‘OK, let’s see year by year, month by month’.

“I spoke with my family. They will come more often to races. All of them are coming to Miami [in early May] now, my mother, my sister and my two nieces.

“We decide and plan to make some changes for the things I miss or the things that maybe worry me about keeping racing.

“F1 takes all your time. You have to give up everything in life for racing and I wanted to speak with myself to make sure I wanted to do so.

“Once I had done that, I sat with Aston and it was not too difficult. We both wanted the same, I wanted to keep racing with Aston Martin and they wanted to keep me, and when two parties want something at one point you reach an agreement.

“I am extremely excited to keep racing. I feel at home. It was also a sense of loyalty that I wanted to express to my team [who I joined] one year and half ago.

“We started together and we achieved so many things, so many highs in such a short period of time and I thought this was just the beginning.”

Related Topics

Related Internet Links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.

Products You May Like

Articles You May Like

Source: Boeser (blood clots) not expected in G7
Nadal trying to determine fitness for French Open
Veteran engineer Symonds to join Andretti Cadillac F1
Saudi Arabia’s PIF to sponsor WTA rankings
“Rs 5 Crore In Drain”: Father Of RCB Star Yash Dayal, Whose Last Over Knocked Out CSK, Remembers Brutal Taunts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *