Fernando Alonso admitted in a recent interview that he has no Plan-B after Formula 1, motorsport is all he knows so that’s what he will do when he quits the top flight, even if it means a management role within an F1 team.
The Spanish 41-year-old double World Champion will be donning the green overalls of Aston Martin in 2023, for what might be his last team in F1, but then it might not be!
Speaking to Auto-Motor-und-Sport, the veteran revealed the fears he has for his future: “It scares me. I don’t have a plan B. I’ve been a racer all my life and I’m only good at this because I haven’t learned anything else. My life has always been dedicated to motorsport. And what I do best in this sport is drive.
“If one day I have to retire from Formula 1, I will do other races. A victory in the Dakar would still be a challenge. Because no one has done it in this combination before. But sitting at home scares me”, Fernando is sincere.”
As for his future in F1, Alonso declared: “I will continue as long as I have the feeling that I can still give 100%, so definitely another two or three years. At my age, I have to face many things in a different way: training, travel, events… You have to organize well so as not to burn.”
Alonso: And if it doesn’t work out as a driver, perhaps in a role outside the car
The winner of 32 Grand Prix races is also aware that after his two years with Alpine, formerly Renault where he won his two F1 titles, he moves to Lawrence Stroll’s Aston Martin team starting from “zero” and added: “I am aware of that. Aston Martin has a good platform. They have very good people and they are building a new factory with new tools.
“I’m leaving behind a lot of great things in Alpine that we’ve developed together over the last two years. I love what I do. Of course, I’d like to have a car that I can challenge with for the title. But there’s no place for me there.
“From what there was, Aston Martin is one of those teams that can achieve that goal in two or three years. That’s important at my age. I don’t have forever, but as long as there’s only one percent chance of winning the title again, I’ll move on. And if it doesn’t work out as a driver, perhaps in a role outside the car.
“If we then become world champions, that would also give me satisfaction, because then I could say I helped build it. I’m happy to start a new project and make it successful as soon as possible.”
Alonso has quit F1 before, at the end of 2018 he took what turned out to be a two-year sabbatical
They were fruitful years too, enhancing his reputation as one of the great all-rounders in motor racing history, winning the WEC title and Le Mans with Toyota; having a go at the Indy 500, and dabbling in the Dakar until, in 2021, he returned to resume his career at the pinnacle of the sport, with Alpine.
But he was two years older in a sport whose drivers have been getting younger and younger each year; now at 41 surely he no longer has the fitness, lightning reflexes, and instincts of a younger driver, the kind of driver he was in the mid-2000s?
Alonso countered: “If a young driver passes you on the last lap in a physically demanding race because he’s a bit fitter, then age would be a disadvantage but that rarely happens. Otherwise, old age only brings advantages. I can extract from a huge database of experiences.
“In Montreal, we only did a few laps in the rain before qualifying. I know the track in the rain from the past, I’ve probably driven there five or six times on a wet track. Is it good for me then?
“I’ve driven on all circuits on the calendar 17 times while some of my colleagues have driven it maybe only twice. The testing time available [in F1] is not enough to make up for this advantage,” explained Alonso.
Even his harshest critics have to admit that Alonso, in terms of the experience he has, his racecraft, his fighting spirit, and his natural speed are not the problem, his talent and abilities in the cockpit cannot be questioned.
The problem Fernando has had throughout his career is the BS he attracts outside the cockpit with his straight-shooting, and often well-thought but ill-advised sound bites that have peppered his career and, in retrospect have done him no favours.
Fernando literally ‘bombed’ McLaren during his first stint there costing them $100-million
After the disastrous spell at McLaren, teammate to rookie Lewis Hamilton in 2007, Alonso then went back to Renault where he won the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix thanks to Crashgate; although he came close to two F1 titles but claimed none during his Ferrari stint that promised much but ended in acrimony.
Thereafter he entered the worst patch of his career with a second move to McLaren, the Woking outfit in turmoil, their much-anticipated reunification with Honda turned into a calamity that had Alonso fuming every time he drove the hapless F1 cars the once mightiest team was producing. No surprise he walked away from it all at the end of 2018.
The comeback, two years later, with Alpine appeared to be his last F1 hurrah – a ‘coming home’ of sorts – but not so. When Sebastian Vettel announced his retirement earlier this year, the seat was not vacant for very long as soon thereafter Aston Martin announced a deal with the Spanish veteran.
The move caught the entire F1 paddock, media, social media and every info portal by surprise, F1’s most volatile driver joining forces with the sport’s most volatile owner: Lawrence Stroll…
Maybe this one, the final move (?) for Alonso, will be the best career decision, perhaps he will not only depend on his vast and illustrious on-track experience but also tap into the lessons learned during his record-breaking 359 Grand Prix starts, to make it work for him during Aston Martin adventure. Watch this space!