July 13, 2024
Alonso expects “difficult races” to start at Aston Martin in F1

Two-time world champion Fernando Alonso has joined Aston Martin for 2023 in one of the biggest off-season driver moves, leaving Alpine after two years.

On Monday, Aston Martin launched its updated car, the AMR23, that Alonso hopes can help put him back into contention at the front of the field alongside new team-mate Lance Stroll.

While Alonso felt it was “a possibility” he can fight again for race wins and a third championship with Aston Martin, he admitted he did not think it could be expected this year.

“I have my feet on the ground,” said Alonso. “I cannot say to anyone that we will be fighting for victories this year. I will lie if I say that.

“But at the same time, we want to have a good car to start with, and to work and develop that car throughout the season.

“Maybe in the second part of the year, we can get closer. If there is an opportunity that is in changeable conditions, if the opportunity comes, we will not miss that opportunity.

“But at the beginning, I expect some difficult races until we find where the car operates, in which window we have to work with the set-up.”

Alonso has not won an F1 race since the 2013 Spanish Grand Prix, while his last championship success in grand prix racing came in 2006 with Renault.

He stepped away from F1 at the end of 2018 in order to explore other racing interests, such as competing at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Indianapolis 500. He returned with Alpine for the 2021 campaign, but that year saw Alonso – by his own admission – initially struggle to get back up to speed in F1.

Aston Martin 23

Photo by: Aston Martin Racing

Yet he turned in some impressive displays throughout 2022, prompting him to hail it as being his best campaign since he came close to a third world title in 2012.  

Alonso reflected on the early struggles at Alpine when discussing his expectations with Aston Martin, noting there would be just one-and-a-half days of running in pre-season for him to get to grips with the AMR23 before the first race in Bahrain.

“I am aware that I will not be 100% in Bahrain, not in Jeddah, maybe not in Australia,” said Alonso. “So that’s a little bit unfair, maybe.

“I think that this is the only sport in the world that you do one day and a half practice and then you play a world championship.

“With Lance, I have that benchmark, in a way, after a few years in the team. I know what is 100, so I can get closer to that in the first moments. Let’s see. I think we have more possibilities to fight for wins and podiums next year, if we have a good baseline this year.

“What we have this year will not be our normal position, I believe.”

Aston Martin finished seventh in last year’s constructors’ championship, enjoying an upswing in form through the second half of the season after struggling towards the very rear of the field in the early part of the year.

Aston Martin 23

Aston Martin 23

Photo by: Aston Martin Racing

Alonso felt it was important to understand there were “no miracles in Formula 1” but hoped the AMR23 could lay the foundations for a more competitive future.

“Last year, the package had some difficulties as we all saw from the outside,” said Alonso. “I think the team went through a few things during the season and they improved a lot at the end of the year.

“Those difficulties are very good when you understand them and you can programme something from that car. I think this is the real first car with this new set of regulations that hopefully Aston Martin can develop in the future.

“That will be for me the biggest thing this year, that we can develop throughout the season, and we can finish 2023 knowing that this is a baseline for the future Aston Martin cars.”

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