For the world champion who leaves, another will take his place. At the Hungarian Grand Prix, Aston Martin had to accept Sebastian Vettel’s decision to retire at the end of the season, despite the fact that team manager Mike Crack had expressed his desire to keep him in the team as well in 2023. However, the search for a replacement did not last long, given that in just four days the team announced the appointment of Fernando Alonso. The Spaniard has shown that he still drives at very high levels despite his age, but the British team’s desire to bet on him has also been dictated for reasons not strictly related to his driving skills.
The news of Alonso’s arrival sparked public enthusiasm at Aston Martin, the coach said Andrew Green: In Hungary Sebastian announced his retirement. We came back Monday morning, and between 8.30-9.00 am the office was full but quiet. We were wondering how the news from Vettel would put us together as a team. There was a ban until nine in the morning, at which time everyone received an email announcing Fernando’s arrival. In 9.02 you can no longer hear your thoughts. The design department has 150-200 employees: the noise was amazing, people were going back and forth”.
The world titles and the charisma of Alonso himself contributed to the collective excitement, but not only: “Fernando is a racer who understands what we’re doing”explains Tom McCullough, Director of Performance, “He understands how tires work, the importance of strategies, and how a car should be improved on the track in terms of tires, power unit, setup, qualification and racing. Generally He’s interested in our work and that’s even before we get in the car. I listen to radio communications of nearly all drivers in post-qualification and post-race, and conversations with their engineers: It’s on another level. Alonso feeds the team with his information to improve the car, the strategy, and gives feedback on rivals… He is incredibly capable, not only in driving fast, but also in providing feedback. Performance is key, but Fernando can be an added value to the team for many other things: his experience in what to focus on. We spend a lot of time deciding what to focus on. Having someone with a lot of experience show us what to do is really helpful for us.”.
Andrew Green echoes: “We wanted someone we knew who would leave absolutely nothing to chance. When he drives, he spares nothing. With him the car is where it needs to be and this is a positive signal that reaches all the engineers at the plant.”. According to Green, the impetus provided by Fernando Alonso perfectly aligns with Aston Martin’s growth ambitions, which have recently been boosted to reach the long-term to fight for the world title: “He left absolutely no stone unturned and we know it will be challenging for us as engineers, but it is beneficial to us. He will definitely push the limits, not just the car, but the whole team. We want the team to mature, see what it takes to become world champions. That is what we need. “.