Fernando Alonso says Aston Martin won’t be in a position to fight for race wins and championships this year but he’s convinced it is “only a matter of time” before he can chase a third title.
The Spaniard joined Aston Martin from Alpine over the winter, signing a multi-year deal to partner Lance Stroll. The team has received significant levels of investment, but finished seventh in the constructors’ championship last season and Alonso admits it will take more than a year to start fighting the likes of Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes. However with a new factory opening this year and more resources, he believes 2023 could lay the foundations for future title fights.
“I do believe that there is a possibility,” Alonso said of winning a third championship. “I don’t think this year; I’m honest about that. I do have my feet on the ground. I cannot say to anyone that we will be fighting for victories this year – I would be lying if I said that. But at the same time, we want to have a good car to start with, and to develop that car throughout the season, and maybe in the second half of the year we can get closer.
“If there is an opportunity, if there are changeable conditions or something, where the opportunity comes, we will not miss that opportunity. But at the beginning I expect some difficult races until we find where the car operates, which set-up window we have to work with.”
Despite his long-term optimism, Alonso feels he’s being unfairly penalized for moving teams given the limited amount of pre-season testing this season that means he has to share three days with teammate Lance Stroll.
“The first five races or six races in Alpine, I was struggling a lot to feel the front end with a different power steering setting and all these things,” he said.
“This year we have only one day and a half of testing in Bahrain, so I’m aware that I will not be 100% in Bahrain, not in Jeddah, maybe not in Australia. So that’s a little bit unfair. I think it’s the only sport in the world that you do one and a half days of practice and then you play a world championship.
“Also with Lance, I have that benchmark after a few years in the team, I know what 100 is so I can get closer to that in the first moments. I think we have more possibilities to fight for wins and podiums next year if we have a good baseline this year. What we have this year will not be our normal position, is what I believe.”
And the 32-time grand prix winner – who has seen a social media campaign gather pace targeting win number 33 – says he is certain Aston Martin will deliver titles, though hints he only has a short time to achieve it himself at the age of 41.
“I’m very demanding on everything that I do, I expect a lot from people that I work with,” he said. “I give my 100% and I expect the same from the people I work with. From the first day in Aston Martin I felt exactly the same values from the people around me.
“Obviously we have the leadership of Lawrence, who I’ve known for many years now – he had a lot of success in many different things and many different projects in his life, and there’s no doubt that Formula 1 will be any different and he will succeed sooner or later. That’s something that is very motivating.
“The new people that have joined the team – Dan Fallows, Eric Blandin – the best people in each of the competitors, Aston Martin went there and convinced them. So there is something for sure going on in this team that makes things special. You need investment and you need the talent in Formula 1. We have the investment, we have the facilities, and we have the talent. So it’s just a matter of time. Unfortunately I’m not 20 but I will do my best to help the team.”