Fernando Alonso: “I had the feeling that Aston Martin loved me a lot”

Fernando Alonso: "I had the feeling that Aston Martin loved me a lot"

“Why did you choose Aston Martin?
I received a call from the team after the announcement of Sebastian’s withdrawal (Vettel). We discussed and reached an agreement, quickly. I think your project is very attractive. They have invested a lot in recent years, they have hired a lot of good people, they have built new buildings in Silverstone. I had the feeling that it was a great project for the future. I thought it was the right thing to do.

You are leaving a team that is currently 4th in the Championship for a team that is 9th. What do you expect from Aston Martin for next year?
Of course, I am taking risks with this decision. Nobody has a crystal ball to know the future. But in F1, like in other sports, you either win or you don’t. So, in the end, it doesn’t matter if you finish 4th, 9th or 13th: either you’re first or you don’t win. We are all here to occupy this first place. And of all the options I had for next year, I think this was the best, that this project has assets that allow us to win in F1. We’ll see if we can bring this project to success quickly.

“It’s not just about the duration of the contract, it’s also about trust”

Can you give us the details of your negotiations with Aston Martin in Hungary, which led to the signing of the contract?
I can’t reveal everything, but I can say some things. It all started when Sebastian announced that he would be retiring at the end of the season. Aston Martin probably did not expect this decision, they were happy to continue with it for another year. They called several pilots that interested them and were available next year, I was one of them. We started talking in Hungary, about what I expected, what they expected from me too. We are quickly approaching common ground. And on Monday morning we signed the contract. We decided to announce it quickly, to avoid the risk of a leak.

Would you have liked to stay with Alpine?
Yes, that was my original intention. In all the press conferences I gave this year, I always said that I was happy with the progress of the team. It was to join her that I decided to return to F1. For me it is more than a team, it is a family. We have achieved a lot together, she will always be a part of my life. But Aston Martin really wanted to hire me and was confident in my ability to develop their project. And I told myself that if I left, Alpine could offer this wheel to a young driver, like Oscar. (Piastri). It was a win-win.

Had Alpine offered him a longer contract (the French team offered one year plus one more as an option), could he have signed before the wheel at Aston Martin was available?
Negotiations with Alpine were progressing, but we weren’t necessarily in agreement on the main things. But it’s not just about the duration of the contract, it’s also about trust, how much you feel loved by a team. It’s a difficult feeling to describe, but I felt that Aston Martin really loved me and I’ve enjoyed my performance over the last two years.

“The people involved in the negotiations were aware”

Otmar (Szafnauer, the director of Alpine) stated that he had heard about your signing at Aston Martin in the press release published by the team. How well did you keep Alpine informed of his departure?
I am happy to be asked this question. It’s true, Otmar probably didn’t know about my negotiations with Aston Martin, but I informed Laurent Rossi. (Alpine CEO) and Luca de Meo (Renault boss), my mechanics and my engineers before the official announcement. The people involved in the negotiations were aware. Otmar was not involved in the negotiations, and perhaps Laurent and Luca did not call him. This explains his surprise.

Following the announcement of his departure from Aston Martin, Alpine announced the signing of Oscar Piastri. But the latter denied and declared that he would not race with the team in 2023. What do you think of this situation?
It’s hard for me to comment. I think everyone here was shocked by what happened. But I don’t know all the details, and it’s not up to me to comment, it’s up to the team to do so.

There were rumors around Flavio Briatore, his former manager, who was involved in the negotiations. Can you clarify his role, if he ever had one?
I read these rumours, and it’s quite sad and upsetting. Flavio was never involved in anything that involved me. I made this decision alone. For several months, the negotiations had been going on, but officially nothing was happening, nothing was happening. Aston Martin called me after the announcement of Sebastian’s retirement. It was a quick and easy decision to make. But what happened next, especially around Oscar, that doesn’t bother me. He is a great talent and he will bring a lot to whatever team he joins, whether it be Alpine or another. I wish him the best, and I wish Alpine the best too. »

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