Fernando Alonso returns to the scene of his thirty second and – because it stands no less than – ultimate F1 victory.
Alonso overtook fellow F1 champions Kimi Raikkonen and Lewis Hamilton across the exterior of Turn 3 on the opening lap of the 2013 Spanish Grand Prix earlier than taking advantage of an aggressive four-stop technique to safe his second profession victory in Barcelona.
In the next seasons to his final win in 2013, Alonso has solely stood on the rostrum on three events with a torrid stint with McLaren mixed with Alpine’s present underperformance leaving the two-time champion battling within the midfield.
Despite his lack of outright success, Alonso stays certainly one of F1’s most revered and highly-rated skills.
Even at 40, Alonso is likely one of the greatest wheel-to-wheel racers on the grid together with his aggressive driving model nonetheless making him a fan favorite.
Given his age and Alpine’s present lack of competitiveness, and their incapacity to make a leap ahead from the midfield into the highest three, Alonso could be inside his rights to query his future.
However, regardless of not having a race-winning automotive, Alonso stays as hungry and dedicated as ever.
Alpine have the selection of retaining the Spaniard or selling highly-rated teenager Oscar Piastri for 2023 but when Alonso needs to proceed, then absolutely it is a no-brainer for the French workforce.
In an interview with the BBC, Alonso confirmed that he needs to proceed in F1 past 2022.
“We [with Alpine] didn’t talk officially,” Alonso mentioned. “We just had a couple of coffees. But, yeah, I think the possibility will be there. The motivation is still there to win and to close that gap [to the front] even if we know how extremely difficult it is going to be.
“We know there are a couple of things we can do. This first year of the new regulations you learn a lot from other cars and other philosophies, so there are a lot of shortcuts in performance you can find very easily. Next year or the next two years I would love to continue and keep driving because I feel at my best right now and it would be wrong to watch F1 from home and from the living room while I still feel 100% of my abilities.
“When I feel it is not that way, I will be the first to raise my hand and stop because F1 is very demanding; you have to sacrifice a lot of things in life to keep racing. But at the moment it is still worth doing it.”
Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer indicated that discussions would begin at the British Grand Prix in July with the French outfit keen to find Piastri a drive somewhere on the grid.
There has been speculation that Williams could decide to replace Nicholas Latifi, who continues to struggle alongside Alex Albon, midway through the year but no decision has yet been made by the Grove outfit.
The alternative to Alpine
One rumour that continues to remain is linking Alonso with a move to Aston Martin.
According to F1-Insider, Aston Martin owner Lawrence Stroll is a big admirer of Alonso and he’d be his first choice to replace Sebastian Vettel, should he retire from F1 at the end of the year.
Vettel has often expressed his dissatisfaction about racing in the midfield rather than contending for grand prix victories, leading to the questions about how long the four-time champion has left in F1.
Aston Martin have once again struggled so far this year with their 2022 challenger considerably overweight.
However, for Alonso, the appeal that Aston Martin would have over Alpine is tricky to understand.
Alonso has an affiliation with Alpine given that they are effectively Renault and are housed at Enstone.
The Spaniard won both of his titles with the Enstone outfit back in 2005 and 2006, before a second spell with the team in 2008 and 2009.
Alpine are also a works outfit while Aston Martin rely on Mercedes for their power unit.
A change of scenery could be what Alonso wants but a move to Aston Martin for 2023 will likely just be a sidewards step as the Silverstone-based team shows no signs of returning to their Racing Point form of 2020.
20 points behind Ocon
If you looked at the drivers’ championship after five rounds you’d be right to think Alonso was ‘past it’ given that he trails teammate Esteban Ocon by 20 points.
It’s the complete opposite with the points table not showing the full story.
Not taking anything away from Ocon’s start to the year, the Frenchman has been ultra-consistent, although has lacked Alonso’s outright speed.
Alonso was on for at least sixth at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix before an engine failure ended his day prematurely, while another technical issue robbed him of one of the best qualifying laps of the year as he was on course to claim provisional pole position in Melbourne.
The race didn’t work out for Alonso because the technique didn’t work out at Albert Park, after which he was on the unsuitable finish of woman luck at Imola when Mick Schumacher broken his sidepod and compelled him out of the race prematurely.
The good factor for Alonso is that his uncooked tempo and efficiency appear to be there and common factors finishes are inevitable.
Will Alonso keep?
Alonso stays hungry to achieve F1 and whereas that third drivers’ title will in all probability proceed to allude him, he nonetheless stays motivated.
Other than Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari – all of which have their very own star drivers – Alonso could be an asset and an incredible signing for any workforce.
There’s little question Alonso will stay on the grid for 2023 however the place?
For Alpine, protecting Alonso makes essentially the most sense. While Piastri is younger and thrilling, inserting him elsewhere to develop and prosper beforehand could be an excellent state of affairs however would it not be potential given Williams might be desirous to develop their very own driver, not one other workforce’s.
Aston Martin would solely be a sideways step however the Silverstone workforce have a greater monitor document in recent times in comparison with Alpine, notably earlier than the rebrand in 2021.
Regardless, don’t anticipate this weekend to be Alonso’s ultimate residence race in F1.