In the swirling vortex of Formula 1 rumours this week, Fernando Alonso sounds firm about his immediate future – quashing any speculation about imminent retirement. “For now, no,” the 42-year-old emphatically told Fox Sports Mexico, addressing the whispers circulating around his future in the fast lane. “I know I’m in the closing part of my career, but for now, I don’t see it. I don’t have a date to put an end to my career,” Alonso declared.
But while Alonso set the record straight, the rumour mill hasn’t stopped churning. Because the reports from Spain didn’t only ponder Alonso’s retirement, but also teased a jaw-dropping seat swap with Red Bull’s struggling Sergio Perez – to be paired with fellow F1 ‘GOAT’ Max Verstappen. Alonso, who pulled off a series of surprising podium finishes early this year, now finds himself and his team, Aston Martin, at the center of the storm as their season took a turbulent downturn.
Some critics suggest that a series of failed car developments have left Aston Martin “lost.” Team boss Mike Krack, however, is quick to refute this notion. “You may have that impression,” he stated to DAZN, “but I think when you are lost, you don’t pay attention to the data anymore which makes you try things that are unreasonable. And that’s not the case.” Krack is adamant: his team is still in the game even as they grapple with late car setup changes, leading to regular and unseemly pitlane starts.
“We want to compete and we don’t like starting from the pit lane,” Krack expressed, “but it is very important that we understand the data. And the best way to understand what you’re doing is to go back to something you already know to compare it.” Despite this, Krack confessed that the team is still uncertain about which car specification they will bring to Brazil this weekend – more of the more predictable version, or more of the uncertain recent upgrades.
And as the season’s end now looms, Alonso’s once buoyant mood has palpably shifted. He left Mexico souonding resigned, stating, “we are not fighting for anything” anymore in 2023. “We are going to lose the places to the Ferrari, and to George (Russell) and to Lando (Norris). All we can do now is learn.”
The change in Alonso’s demeanour has only fueled the flames of the rumours linking Perez to a Red Bull exit and a potential seat swap with Alonso for 2024. “Dr. (Helmut) Marko says there is a contract for Perez in 2024,” former F1 driver Vitaly Petrov weighed in, “But we all know that people are fickle and a decision can change in an instant.”
Daniel Ricciardo, a more likely name in the mix for Perez’s seat, shared his thoughts on the situation. “We’re all human. We all have emotions and feelings. You never want anyone to be in Checo’s situation, surrounded by negativity,” said the Australian, sympathising with Perez. “The only way to put an end to the rumors is on the track,” he concluded, highlighting the relentless nature not only of F1’s rumour mill, but all the pressures that come with it.