SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, Belgium — Fernando Alonso says a major factor in his decision to move from Alpine to Aston Martin at the end of the season was because he felt more wanted and appreciated by Aston Martin.
Alonso’s switch to Aston Martin for 2023 kicked off a remarkable week in F1’s driver market as Alpine moved to replace him with Oscar Piastri only to find that their reserve driver had already committed his future to McLaren. Piastri’s move, which is subject to a hearing at the FIA’s contract recognition board next week, also resulted in McLaren cutting Daniel Ricciardo’s contract a year short at the end of this year.
Alonso was only offered a year-long contract by Alpine according to team principal Otmar Szafnauer, but the two-time champion said it was not just the contract length that convinced him sign a multi-year deal with Aston Martin.
“We were moving around in different things [in the Alpine contract negotiations] and we were not maybe agreeing on the principles,” he said ahead of this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix. “It’s not only what you agree in terms of duration of the contract, it is also the trust that you feel and how you feel wanted in a place — you know and if it was just a temporary thing or facts on a timed watch that they are happy with.
“It was always a strange feeling and, as I said, I felt like it was the right decision to move to Aston because they seemed to really want me and appreciate every performance I put in in the last few years.”
Alonso also revealed that he opted not to inform Szafnauer ahead of the Aston Martin announcement, but that he had told other senior management at Alpine.
“It’s true, Otmar probably didn’t know anything but I informed [Alpine CEO] Laurent Rossi, [Renault Group] president Luca de Meo, my mechanics and my engineers before any announcement,” he said. “All the people that were involved in the negotiations were informed before any announcement from Aston Martin.
“Otmar was not involved in the negotiations and yes, probably, Laurent and Luca didn’t call him before the announcement and he was surprised by that. But all the people that I’d been negotiating with, they were informed before any announcement about my move to Aston. And with my mechanics and my engineers, I took my time to inform them before any announcement.”
Alonso will move from a team that is currently fourth in the standings to one that is ninth, but believes Aston Martin’s recent investment and recruitment drive will ultimately offer him the best chance of winning races in the future.
“I think for sure there is some risk in every decision you make in Formula One. No one has the crystal ball to guess the future,” he said. “At the same time, in Formula One, or any sport, you win or you don’t. It doesn’t matter to be fourth or ninth or 13th, you are first or you are not winning.
“I felt that within the possibilities that I had on the table for next year, I felt that this was the right one and the project has some ingredients for the future and ones that are normally synonymous with success in F1 — when you invest and you have the best people. Let’s see if we can short cut that time as much as possible and make Aston Martin first as soon as possible.”