Fernando Alonso’s ‘plan’ changes from blue to green

Oscar Maya Belchi

Madrid, Aug 1 (EFE).- The Spanish Fernando Alonso opened the month of August with news that surprised fans and members of Formula One, after changing the Alpine blue for the Aston Martin green, where he will replace the German Sebastian Vettel from next season to pursue his idea of ​​”winning again”; the famous ‘plan’.

The two-time F1 champion with Renault in 2005 and 2006 returned to competition two seasons ago, after leaving two years to win – twice in the 24 LeMans and the endurance championship and once in the 24H of Daytona – and participate – Rally Dakar and the Indianapolis 500- in other disciplines, with an eye on this 2022 and its change in regulations postponed for a year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

That’s where ‘the plan’ came from. A movement that was born in social networks and that changed Fernando Alonso himself and even the Alpine team -former Renault-, which put those words on his rear wing in the last race of the last season. The objective was so simple and difficult to achieve at the same time: to win again.

In the change of regulations, especially in the aerodynamic part of the cars, hope was harbored; but this appeared little. The pre-season tests in Barcelona already showed Alpine’s problems and it didn’t take long for them to see that they were going to be far from the top and from that dream of fighting again for the leading positions.

Alonso brought out magic in the third Grand Prix of the year when in the Australian classification he made the first two sectors in pole times, but a mechanical problem in the final meters caused him to end up in the gravel. In Canada, in the rain, when the performance of the cars is not so important, the great Asturian driver finished second in qualifying, but in the dry the Alpine failed again and could only finish ninth.

Moments of brilliance in driving, with his 41 years just turned last Friday, which did not translate into points in the first third of the season due to the poor reliability of the French team’s car.

The expectations were not met and the renewal or not of Alonso by Alpine became the center of the debate before facing the month of hiatus after the summer and there were statements by Otmar Szafnauer, team leader, distancing himself from the importance of the Spanish, even cataloging him as second pilot and putting on the table on several occasions the name of Oscar Piastri -from his pilot academy-.

However, when the renewal seemed close, with Alonso saying that “if both parties agree, this will be fixed in ten minutes” and that his “first option” and “intention” was to stay in Alpine and with Alan Permane, Alpine’s engineering chief, assuring in Hungary that “it is a basic piece in the team”, everything changed.

At the Hungaroring, Sebastian Vettel, four-time world champion with Red Bull in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013, announced his departure from Aston Martin and withdrawal from Formula One, so Lawrence Stroll, owner of the British team, put all the meat in the grill to achieve a signing that was not the first time he had pursued, but this time he has succeeded.

‘The plan’ changes to green. To a team that, today, is further from winning than Alpine. In data: they are ninth -out of ten- in the constructors’ classification with 20 points, for Alpine’s 99 that make them occupy fourth place.

However, it is not the first time that Alonso has surprised with a change of team. The first, in a very different situation, was on his return to Renault after a season at McLaren in 2007 in which the situation was unsustainable due to the preferential treatment of Lewis Hamilton that, in the end, made them lose the title.

The second if it bears any resemblance. Alonso left Ferrari in 2014 after five years of illusions and frustrations, aware that they were not going to be able to fight with Mercedes in the hybrid era – this is how he stood out later – and embarked on a McLaren-Honda project that, without a doubt, was wrong.

Now, eight years later, the Spaniard is aware, as he said in Hungary, that there is no room in the winning cars, so an alternative must be taken.

“Getting into a winning car? That’s impossible right now, but I don’t have a crystal ball to tell me what’s going to happen either. With the new rules right now Red Bull and Ferrari can win, and possibly Mercedes again. If you can do it, right now the best thing is to go to one of those three teams, and if not, you have to believe in new projects”, assured the two-time world champion.

That is why Alpine changes to Aston Martin, a team that will see its new factory born at the end of 2023 and that has invested money in signing engineers from Mercedes and Red Bull with the aim of settling in the elite, although in 2022 they are far from it .

The British team, directed by the Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll, whose son, Lance, will be Alonso’s partner, does not have its own engine, as if it has Alpine, since it is a Mercedes client, so that part of the development does not run from your account.

Usual at the bottom of the grid, struggling to get into Q2 and scratching a point, Aston Martin is confident that the signing of Fernando Alonso will help them progress to the top in a “multi-year” agreement, something the Spaniard has insisted on in his statements and that, according to information emerging from the paddock, was a central point in the renewal negotiations with Alpine.

The Asturian did not want to commit to just one more season since he feels that signing one of his “best years at a competitive level”, so the plan, again, is, of course, to win.

“I still have the hunger and ambition to fight at the top, and I want to be part of an organization that is committed to learning, growing and succeeding. My intention is to win again in this sport, and that is why I have to take the opportunity that I feel is right for me,” Alonso said in the statement announcing his signing for Aston Martin, a single-seater in which he will start his 20th season in F1.

(c) EFE Agency

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