You will be reading a lot about Fernando Alonso this week, not only is the Spanish veteran enjoying an incredible high with Aston Martin, he now heads to his home Grand Prix where his recent exploits have reignited interest in Formula 1 among his countrymen, all manifesting for #WIN33 this weekend in Barcelona.
With five podiums in six races this season so far, 41-year-old Alonso is the only driver to run the mighty and dominant Red Bulls close. After a winter in which not only did he defect from Alpine to unexpectedly join Aston Martin, they, in turn, found a ‘Magic Button’ that transformed Lawrence Stroll’s team from midfield stragglers to sharp-end contenders. At least for Alonso who ‘drives like he stole it’ but not so much so the billionaire’s son Lance Stroll in the other Green car.
But this is an Alonso story, the Spaniard has not won in Formula 1 for exactly a decade. And where was that victory? At the 2013 Spanish Grand Prix! The scriptwriters of the forthcoming, Apple-backed Lewis-Hamilton-Brad-Pitt, F1 blockbuster movie collaboration have a tough act to follow.
Ok, how is this for s script? Old F1 Legend comes out of ‘retirement’ after a few years in the wilderness, in which he won Le Mans and starred in just about everything from Indycar to Dakar. Old F1 Legend arrives at a team in the doldrums, fires them up and turns them into a winning force for the first time, teaching the Arrogant Rich Kid, in the other car, a lesson or three.
Sound familiar. Alonso, of course, and the man with ‘El Plan’ is lapping it up after Monaco. A challenging and trying race in which he was again sensational, knew he had two very slim chances of beating a rampant and majestic Max Verstappen. First the drag race to T1 and up the hill, Fernando tried but the RB19 and its driver were too good.
The other chance we all knew would be the weather if it came, and it did. To produce a hectic final ten minutes after a relatively mundane earlier stanza. Treacherous conditions ensued, nearly catching Max out, but before that, the other slight chance Alonso might have had went begging, a tyre gamble in the casino city, did not pay off… but had it he might’ve won or at least run Max closer than he did in the end.
Fernando: Second place in Monaco now the next one we need is the top step
However, it is hard to deny Verstappen his splendid victory on the day. He was simply sensational, his genius evident a day earlier with his jaw-dropping last sector in Q3 attack to claim an astounding pole. But, at the same time, full credit to Alonso and Aston Martin for keeping Red Bull and Max honest, pushing the World Champs them like no others all weekend in Monte-Carlo, qualy and race included.
With the champagne spray from the royal rostrum hardly dry, F1 is already heading to Barcelona for Alonso’s home race: “The emotions are still high after an amazing result in Monaco but now we shift our focus to my home race here in Spain. I’m looking forward to seeing all of the Spanish and Aston Martin fans out in full force supporting our team.
“I hope to see lots of green in the grandstands over the weekend. So far, we have scored lots of third places, a second place in Monaco and the next one we need is the top step. To do this we have to maximise every part of our weekend and capitalise on any opportunities that may come our way. But I am not obsessed with this and we will enjoy every moment.
“We have a lot of experience at this circuit but it’s always a good challenge. It’ll be interesting to race again without a chicane at the end of the lap, and hopefully, this creates more overtaking opportunities,” added the Spaniard, in his team’s preview of Round 7 of the 2023 F1 World Championship in Barcelona this weekend.
Alonso’s F1 stats ahead of his home race this weekend in Spain are record-breaking. He will line up for his 362nd Grand Prix start on Sunday, hunting that elusive #WIN33, with a realistic chance for the first time since he won here ten years ago so famously for Ferrari.
Now, there would be no better place than home for FATE to hand the local hero, Old F1 Legend a big dollop of luck to blow the roof of Barcelona with a victory on Sunday and to really checkmate scriptwriters, for that’s one tale they would never dare have dreamed up. But history shows that in F1 life is often stranger than fiction.