Is Alonso right to go to Aston Martin?

By deciding to join Lawrence Stroll’s stable next year, Fernando Alonso surprised the paddock. Because Aston Martin is currently second to last in the standings…

GREEN I HOPE…

In Eric Rohmer’s film The Green RayMarie and Vincent watch the sunset on the beach of Saint-Jean-de-Luz and see the green halo, that emerald glow that the suitors hope to observe as a harbinger of a happy future… And Fernando Alonso, the ‘lover of speed, what did he see before marrying the green Aston Martin?

Because it takes a good deal of confidence to leave Alpine, a team that occupies the fourth position in the provisional classification of constructors, and join a formation that plays in the ninth and penultimate position of the said classification and that has continued to decline since the name change. (fourth as Racing Point in 2020, seventh last year).

More worrying: while an opportunity should have been taken with the complete overhaul of the technical regulation, which reset the counters, Aston Martin’s engineers got their aerodynamic philosophy wrong. Between two concepts, they chose the most promising in theory, but which, in reality, never worked due to the phenomenon of pumping or “porpoise”). At a standstill, they introduced a more conventional “B” version in Spain, whose development delay hurts performance.

F1, Formula 1, F1 2022, Alonso, Aston Martin, 2023, Alpine, Krack transfer window

HIGH EXPECTATIONS FOR GAVET

“The chosen concept offered great aerodynamic potential, but could never be exploited due to pumping, Aston Martin’s Luxembourg team principal Mike Krack confirms to the BBC. We’ve identified the car’s weak points – its weight, the feel it conveys to drivers and its aerodynamic performance – and we’re in the process of correcting them one by one.

Not very reassuring for the future… That said, next year’s car will be the first Aston Martin designed under the direction of Dan Fallows (below), Red Bull’s ex-aero chief, launched by his employer last April

The car will also benefit from the expertise of deputy technical director Eric Blandin (former chief aerodynamicist at Mercedes and former colleague of Fallows at Milton Keynes) and engineering director Luca Furbatto (formerly chief designer at Alfa Romeo ).

F1, Alonso, Aston Martin, Dan Fallows

If all goes well, the Mercedes V6 AMR23 should be more competitive. While negotiating with Lawrence Stroll, Alonso must have received confidential information that convinced him that the “British racing green” team would replace Alpine in 2023 and 2024. After two seasons at Enstone, he was able to identify the potential of the French stable.

It’s true that he’s improved a lot this year, his car moving from sixth to fourth fastest car from 2021, but does Enstone have what it takes to get close to Red Bull, Ferrari or Mercedes? The matador’s choice to go from blue to green is understandable, although the promises only bind those who believe…

“I’m sure we’ll take a big step forward with the AMR23, explains Fallows. Because I see progress in all departments of the factory: aerospace, design office, research and development, etc. Everyone is finding improvements, whether it’s the weight, the stiffness, the stability of the platform… It’s all going to make it a better car.”

“All that’s missing is clarity and unity of purpose – that’s what I hope to bring to the team. We’re ambitious and want to go as fast as possible, but we know there’s a big difference between becoming the best team behind of the best teams and be able to threaten them.

F1, Formula 1, F1 2022, Alonso, Aston Martin, 2023, Alpine, transfer window

STILL IN THE GROWTH PHASE

The other issue is the short-term maturity of the project, because the team is still restructuring since taking over. But, as Krack acknowledges, the team’s growth was matched by technical upheaval this season. “It wasn’t more than we could handle at the time”.

“Until recently, our structure was based on a few people. In the last few years, we have pumped a lot of money into it and we have grown at a fast pace. However, when growth is rapid, it often happens that the structure does not adapt as quickly. In general, you lose efficiency if you grow very quickly, and that’s exactly what happened to us.”

We have to hope for Alonso that the team finds that efficiency that was his trademark when he had empty pockets. Yes, Father Stroll is putting the pieces of the puzzle together, but progress is always slow in Formula 1, as the trajectories of McLaren or Alpine prove. The first building of the new factory (which will house the designers and racing team) won’t be finished until spring 2023 and the new wind tunnel even later.

At 41, the Spaniard, who no longer has endless seasons ahead of him, will land in a structure that has barely been put in place. Even though he knows he’s joining a team from behind the grid, he’s still a hungry competitor, not exactly known for his patience…

F1, Formula 1, F1 2022, Alonso, Aston Martin, 2023, Alpine, transfer window

TO THE OWNER’S SON

Over time, Alonso has learned to contain his public rants and even show humility to Alpine, but will he be able to hold his tongue internally and unite instead of divide? At his age, a long-term project makes little sense.

The proud and maverick driver who criticized his own side in his days at Ferrari and McLaren hasn’t completely disappeared, as he knows his future heading into Silverstone:

Usually experienced drivers no longer have the desire to win like the young wolves, explains Krack. In general, this hunger diminishes, especially if they have already won. Not so with Fernando, who possesses a rare combination of speed, hunger for success, drive and experience. This makes him the perfect candidate to help us take the next step. The downside of this type of driver is that if our car is not good, things get complicated. But this is the case for all drivers if the car is slow.

“You have to learn to manage champions, which we have already done with Sébastien, because these drivers are very demanding and therefore quite difficult to manage. Difficulties arise when expectations do not match results, or when things are not clear. Fernando knows very well that coming here he will not win, but he can be sure that we will give everything we have and listen to him.

Alonso likes to be the leader of a team, but at Aston Martin the boss will be Pare Stroll.

F1, Formula 1, F1 2022, Alonso, Aston Martin, 2023, Alpine, transfer window

The proud hidalgo has been more discreet in recent seasons, no doubt by calculation (to recover his tarnished reputation). The one who once harbored the illusory hope of a steering wheel at Mercedes or Red Bull had the courage to start from scratch, almost like a beginner. In his illusory pursuit of a third-world crown, almost moving in its quixotic dimension, Alonso showed Alpine that he possessed a dose of selflessness that we did not know. Or would it be the other way around? Knowing that the probability of him winning a Grand Prize is objectively nil, did he tell himself that a big check was always a good thing? He hardly looks like the proud pilot…

Be that as it may, Mister Hyde still hides under the blue helmet, and his union with Aston Martin seems an unreasonable marriage, as at the end of the 2007 season, when he left McLaren, the most competitive at the time, to return to Enstone because he did not feel sufficiently supported in Woking.

His decision to join Aston Martin, which is understood from certain aspects (high potential, two or three year contract, pay rise) looks more like a whim (just to punish Alpine than not I wanted him enough) than a well-considered one. decision

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