15 AUGUST 2023
“IT WAS A DREAM START FOR US!”
Fernando Alonso, Belgian GP 2023
© Aston Martin Racing
Fernando Alonso and Aston Martin have been the surprise package of the first six Grands Prix of the season, with the Spaniard standing on the podium on five occasions and taking the battle for second place in the drivers’ championship from Red Bull’s number two, Sérgio Perez. However, since Mercedes, Ferrari and now McLaren have introduced major new packages to their cars, the AMR23 has fallen down the order and in Budapest, for example, it was only the fifth fastest car in the field, well behind to compete with direct competitors.
Nevertheless, the Spaniard insists the first half of the 2023 World Championship has exceeded his and his team’s expectations and is committed to continuing to fight to return to the front of the field and ultimately score that elusive 33rd Grand Prix which will win all of Spain. he seems to be desperately hoping.
Q: You’ve had a couple of disappointing weekends more recently, but in Belgium you finished ahead of a Mercedes and the only surviving McLarens, so is there any satisfaction that things are getting back on track?
Alonso: I think so. I think the car felt quick on race day at Spa, the guys did an incredible job again on the strategy, also in the pit stops. We made a couple of places also in the Sprint, even if we didn’t finish the race, but it was Sunday, in full dry conditions, the car felt more normal. Yes, we had a few thoughts after Hungary after Silverstone, the team made a few changes to the set-up and the car, it felt more normal, more competitive. So I’m happy and fifth place in Spa is a good boost before the summer break.
Q: Are you surprised the team is struggling a bit right now?
Alonso: Yes, a little. At Silverstone we expected to struggle a bit, but in Budapest we thought we would be a bit stronger, but that wasn’t the case, but at least we came back stronger at Spa.
Q: What are the car’s strengths and weaknesses now?
Alonso: We have to see a lot of things, it’s up to us to understand a little better what the car is doing now, compared to the beginning of the season, how many upgrades we brought compared to our main competitors and understanding the new tires the best, is the same for everyone, we need to do a better job.
Q: Do you think Aston Martin has relented in the development race?
Alonso: It’s hard to know. Every struggle we will love to understand and we will have many questions and we never know exactly what is the cause of it. In Austria, Hulkenberg, in the Haas, was fourth after qualifying, so we were all surprised. In Silverstone, Williams was very fast and we were surprised, in Hungary, Alfa Romeo was very fast, we were all surprised. But then, normally, in the races, everything balances out and the big team finishes ahead. We’re just at the back of those top teams so we’ve got to get back to the front of this group.
Q: How would you feel about the first half of the season?
Alonso: Unbelievable. A dream first half of the season, you know, we’re P3 in the constructors’ championship ahead of Ferrari, we’re P3 in the drivers’ championship with Lewis, you know, it was impossible to think like that when we arrived in Bahrain five months ago.
Q: How does it feel to be 42 years old now?
Alonso: Almost 43 you can say now! Which has been the theme all year. But no, I think people have already seen that, it’s not a big change when you’re 41 or when you’re 25, it’s more in your mind, motivation, how you approach the weekend. And, races like Spa or the stars I had at Spa, or even a few examples, you know, in other teams: they bet more on experience. Like Daniel now in AlphaTauri and stuff like that. So, it’s not about youth, it’s just about going fast.
Q: Based on what’s going on at Alpine, are you now confident that you made the right decision by coming here instead of staying where you were?
Alonso: Obviously you never know that. You know, it would be nice to have a crystal ball and before you make a decision to change teams you know the future, but yeah, in the end I’m happy where I am, and there’s a project here in the future and I’m very proud.