“I am very demanding in everything I do. I give my 100% and expect the same from the people I work with,” Alonso said at the launch of Aston Martin’s new car, the AMR23, earlier this week. illustrating all his charisma.
It’s the Spaniard’s obsession with perfection that has fueled frustration in the past, even causing relationships within teams to crack. Last year Alonso was convinced he was at his best level in terms of performance since 2012, only the Alpine’s reliability problems cost him a pretty substantial amount of points.
It was therefore no surprise to see that on the final day of testing in Abu Dhabi, Alonso praised the reliability of the Aston Martin package and, in particular, of its Mercedes engine. His enthusiasm for ownership of the team, which enjoys a significant surge of investment from owner Lawrence Stroll, has been evident since the announcement over the summer break.
Although Alonso got a taste of what life with Aston Martin would be like in Abu Dhabi during the Pirelli tests, it wasn’t until 1 January that he was able to get to work. Since then, however, he has thrown himself into everything the team has done in an attempt to create, in the words of dad Stroll, ‘one of the greatest teams in Formula 1’.
Stroll’s commitment and the team culture that comes with it is something Alonso believes is in line with his particularly demanding approach. “Since my first day at Aston Martin, I have perceived exactly the same values from the people around me,” he said.
Alonso explained that he is increasingly happy with his decision to abandon his previous venture, although he regrets that he will not have enough time to enjoy the success Aston Martin is working on.
“We have the investment, the facilities and the talent, so it’s just a matter of time. Unfortunately I’m not 20, but I’ll do my best to help the team,” said the rider from Oviedo.
Alonso stresses that his decision to join Aston is getting more satisfying every day.
Photo at: Aston Martin Racing
This help is exactly why Aston Martin wants Alonso to be honest and unfiltered. This will be the third year of Stroll’s five-year plan to build Aston into a cutting-edge team, and he believes embracing Alonso’s demanding style is an effective way to step up.
“I found him very honest and transparent,” said Aston Martin team principal Mike Krack, speaking of Alonso on the sidelines of the presentation. “We are very happy with his demanding attitude of him. He pushes us to go forward and we are ready to take the longest step we can. It is the only way to advance on the grid”.
Aston Martin has made no secret of its aggressive approach to the AMR23 design and the rumors of its progress over the winter have been encouraging. But if things don’t go according to plan and Alonso’s frustration mounts, the team is ready to tackle things head-on.
“Obviously if the car isn’t going to be how we want it, there are going to be some tough conversations,” Krack said. “But we’ll have to be ready to face them, because we can’t hide. I think we can’t hide in front of Fernando Alonso.”
Alonso had his first chance to get to grips with the 2022 Aston Martin at post-season testing in Abu Dhabi.
Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images
“We have come face to face in discussions. We are honest, open, transparent and I don’t expect any problems.”
Alonso’s feedback has already impressed the team. After the single day of testing in Abu Dhabi, he had another day of testing on the 2022 car at Jerez earlier this month, as part of a tire test.
“Fernando is very engaging, very focused,” said Tom McCullough, explaining his point. “He’s also very efficient at speaking. When he describes the car, when he describes the way he thinks a report should be written, a steering wheel setup, there are no wasted words. It’s just concentration, that’s what we should do, this is my idea”.
McCullough added that Alonso has been “a thorn in his side” over the years. “He’s always there, week after week, qualifying well and racing well. Listening to him on the radio, he’s always alert to the strategy of the cars in front and behind him, what they’re doing with the tyres, where he is in relation to them. He’s It was a lot of fun to see some of these things, but I’m looking forward to seeing him in qualifying and the race.”
Will Alonso reap the benefits of his commitment to Aston Martin?
Photo credit: Mark Sutton
“It’s like he’s one more engineer, very experienced and good, and someone fiercely driven and competitive.”
Even before Monday night’s presentation, with various media engagements and the presentation itself, Alonso had spent four hours on the simulator in the morning.
“That’s the kind of push we get from him. He’s extremely driven, he’s pushing us all to the max because he wants to do well, just like us,” said McCullough.
Alonso’s push is an approach Aston Martin is already taking to improve in the future, in line with the five-year plan. The Spaniard feels more informed than ever, but is aware that the real pinnacle for Aston Martin could only come after his farewell to Formula 1. Even if he will not directly benefit from it, he is ready to give his all to help ensure for that to happen.
“If I’m still driving in F1, great,” he said. “If I don’t drive, if one day we have an Aston Martin dominating races and championships and the two drivers fighting for the championship like Red Bull, with Sebastian (Vettel) and (Mark) Webber, or (Lewis) Hamilton and (Valtteri) Bottas , helping these guys fight for a championship will be a proud moment for me to be part of these first steps of this brand.”
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