Alonso proud and happy with first season with Aston Martin
By Mat Coch
Wednesday 1st November, 2023 - 3:00pm
Fernando Alonso says he’s “proud and happy” of his first season driving for Aston Martin in Formula 1.
The Spaniard started the year the a bang as he recorded six podium finishes from the opening eight races.
He was second in Monaco in a race he, on paper, had a chance at winning were it not for a poor strategy call in changeable conditions.
Aston Martin has slipped down the order since mid-season, coinciding with the rise of McLaren, though Alonso still reached the podium at the Dutch Grand Prix shortly after the F1 summer break.
“It has been more consistent feeling and season than what maybe the results are showing,” the two-time world champion ventured.
“I think we’ve been balancing always the ups and also the downs.
“We’ve been always very focused on the performance of the car and tried to get better as a team.”
Aston Martin is in the process of revitalising itself as a team, stepping out its Force India and Racing Point origins and carving out its own place on the grid.
At its Silverstone base it has constructed an all-new factory, one which is now arguably the best in F1, with a wind tunnel and other facilities also in the works.
That’s come after an intensive recruitment drive, initially headed by former team boss Otmar Szafnauer prior to his switch to Alpine.
Sebastian Vettel was a flagship signing in 2021 with Alonso’s arrival a similar statement of intent from the Lawrence Stroll-owned organisation.
It’s through that lens that Alonso is looking, rather than focusing on the team’s slide in performance through the latter part of the 2023 season.
Aston Martin is a team going through a growth period and his public expectations are in line with that.
“Two years ago, this organisation was 250 people and now we are just a few points away from the very top teams in the Constructors’ championship and tasting the podium for a few times already this year,” he observed.
“We have this new factory as well, a lot of new people that came to the team. I think around 200 points more than last year.
“So it has been an incredible 2023 campaign for Aston Martin.
“I know that we are more and more like football here and only the last result seems to count but we cannot forget where we come from and what the project is about, so very proud of this season so far.
“Hopefully we can finish on a high; in the remaining races we can taste the podium one more time at least and then go into 2024 I think with a lot more confidence than this year.”
That confidence within the technical team is key.
The regulations introduced last season have jumbled up the established order to a point but have also introduced a degree of in-season fluctuation.
Aston Martin is a prime example as it came out of the blocks quickly in pre-season testing and the opening races, only to be out-paced in the development race by the likes of Ferrari, Mercedes, and most of all McLaren.
In part that is a legacy of the team’s former persona, which was battling in the midfield and not accustomed to the cut and thrust of the top end of the grid.
But it showed the team has strong technical prowess, with the experience gleaned this year likely to serve it well heading into 2024.
“I think we started the winter just hoping that the project was taking the right direction after a difficult 2022,” Alonso said.
“We learned a lot of things throughout the season, a lot of things also off-track; development on the car during the season, direction of development.
“It has been a very important championship not only for the results itself, also for the team to get a contender for the future.
“It has been a very important season and I’m very proud and happy.”
The team’s greatest weakness arguably comes from the other side of the garage, where Lance Stroll has underperformed.
Son of the team owner, he’s scored just 53 points to Alonso’s 183. Arguably, Aston Martin should have scored more points in the opening phase of the campaign.
The team is now fifth in the constructors’ championship, having been overtaken by the resurgent McLaren organisation which has two drivers scoring solidly.
While a great contribution from Stroll may not have been enough to hold off McLaren, it would have made the task of overhauling the Silverstone squad all the more difficult.
For Alonso’s pride and happiness, there was potentially more on offer for Aston Martin in 2023.