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why did he leave Alpine for Aston Martin?

This is the transfer that no one expected in F1: Fernando Alonso will leave Alpine at the end of 2022 to join Aston Martin from the 2023 season. What are the reasons behind this divorce? What motivates the Spaniard? Attempts to respond the day after the Spanish driver’s shock announcement.

The day after a fiercely contested Hungarian Grand Prix, we said to ourselves that the Formula 1 had closed the first part of his book 2022the head partly in its traditional summer break.

As a prelude to the magyar sleevethe paddock had already gotten used to the idea that Sebastian Vettel will no longer be there in 2023. The quadruple world champion had just made the announcement, at the same time as he launched his instagram account (not sure, moreover, that it feeds it a lot once the headphones are hung up, but that’s another story…).

Who to replace Vettel?

Who says retirement, said steering wheel to take, is not it? The speculations on the identity of the future replacement for Vettel did not take long to feed “radio paddock”. Mick Schumacher? Nico Hulkenberg? Daniel Ricciardo? Oscar Piastri? Or even Fernando Alonso?

Not many people believed in this last option, the double world champion being more than ever expected to re-stack at Alpine… but in fact, no! To the general surpriseMonday morning, Aston Martin sent a communicated to the media meaning that Alonso had just signed a multi-year contract with them from 2023!

Alpine was not aware!

It’s not just observers, media and fans who have welcomed the news with surprise. Alpine toosince it is by reading the communicated issued by Aston Martin that Otmar Szafnauerthe main team of the French team, has heard the news!

“This is the first confirmation I have had”, he told our colleaguesAutosport. “Of course in the paddock there are all sorts of rumours, and I had heard the one that Aston Martin were interested, but I was convinced that we were very close to retaining Fernando. »

“I haven’t spoken to him since that announcement, because he’s on a boat somewhere in the Greek islands,” he adds. “But I was frankly surprised because I had asked him the question again last weekend and he had replied: ‘No, no, no, I didn’t sign anything’. And then the next morning, I saw the press release sent by Aston Martin. So yes, I was surprised, I’m not going to hide it from you. »

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Why leave Alpine?

The 1,000 euro question. Let’s take the possible reasons one by one. The bait of gain ? Third highest paid driver on the 2022 grid, it is unlikely that thefinancial aspect is the only lever in this decision, although Aston Martin is able to offer him a similar salaryor even superior, to what it touches at Enstone.

The race for performance? Necessarily. And on this radius, the stable of Lawrence Stroll has more than one asset up its sleeve, starting with a new factory under construction at Silverstone. The Canadian businessman does not lack ambitions to make his structure a winning machine titles, which Alonso points out.

“Aston Martin is clearly showing the energy and commitment needed to win. I have known Lawrence and Lance for many years and it is obvious that they have the ambition and the passion to succeed in F1. I saw the team consistently attract great people with winning pedigrees, and realized the huge commitment to new facilities and resources at Silverstone. No one in F1 today shows greater vision and absolute commitment to winning, and that makes for a really exciting opportunity for me. »

A interrogation point remains, however, on Aston Martin’s ability to raise their level of play in the peloton within the next two seasons. At present, the former Racing Point team has negotiated much less than Alpine the technical transition and suffer from comparison in the Constructors’ Championship (20 points against 99).

Divergence of views on the contract ? This is the option chosen by several observers to justify this unexpected transfer. Although the details of the negotiations are still unclear, and no doubt will remain so, it is rumored that Alonso was inclined to extend two full yearsuntil 2024 inclusive.

Conversely, Alpine seemed to want to favor a “1 + 1” contract, which means a full season and the optional second. As manager of the talks, Laurent Rossi, the president of the Dieppe brand, would also have proposed a steering wheel in WEC with the team in 2024, just to tip the balance.

As stated Szafnauer at Motorsport, the second season option would have been can be activated based on track performance. And this is where the shoe pinches in the head of Alonso, eager to benefit from more guarantees in the medium term than performance alone. What he would have found in Aston Martin…

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