Fernando Alonso is still in the spotlight, but instead of podiums it’s now to challenge the narrative surrounding Aston Martin amidst a season of highs and lows. Alonso’s move from Alpine seemed to mark the dawn of a surprising new era, positioning him as a formidable rival to the reigning champion, Max Verstappen, in the early stages of 2023.
However, as the season unfolded, Aston Martin found itself in a perplexing conundrum, slipping behind the likes of Mercedes, Ferrari, and even McLaren despite fevered efforts to improve the green car. Their latest upgrade, unveiled in Austin, raised eyebrows and left many pondering a F1 ‘flop’.
Initially attributing the setbacks to a setup miscalculation due to the sprint format in Austin, the team soon realized that the issues ran deeper as their struggles persisted in Mexico. Alonso shared his insights in Mexico: “I don’t think it’s setup. We have tried many now. It’s not setup, it’s more about the package and us, the drivers, not feeling confident.”
Alonso admits to feeling “on the knife’s edge” throughout the sessions in Mexico – a battle for lost confidence behind the wheel. “It’s been particularly difficult for me. I haven’t done a good job because I lack confidence in the car. I’m not at my best level,” he confessed.
But despite the turbulence, Alonso dispels the notion that the recent upgrade is scrap. “We had the Austin race to compare between the two packages and the results in favour of the new package were clearly favourable,” he explained.
Yet, he acknowledges the discomfort: “It seems that we are not very comfortable in the car. Here, we were slow in every session,” he remarked.
With the season drawing to a close, Alonso is realistic but he maintains that the challenges don’t equate to failure. “It was a good season for us. We did not believe it was possible to be ahead of Ferrari or Mercedes and I am still ahead of drivers for those teams in the championship. That is the positive part,” he shared.
He continues to emphasize the importance of perseverance, insisting there is no frustration “yet”. “We have had a drop in performance in these last races, but we are trying to recover our level. We have to keep working. We are trying to do all the testing we can to give more information to the factory to end the bad streak that we are going through.
“It is difficult,” he added, “but it is not the funeral that I see when I come to talk to the media. Sometimes you learn more from difficulties than from celebrations.”
As for the last few races of 2023, Alonso faces them with a clear perspective: “Right now we are not here to fight for anything,” he admitted. “It is a time to learn and collect information for the future. The season is finished for us.”