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How "demanding" Alonso has started life with Aston Martin F1

Fernando Alonso may be starting the latest - and potentially final - chapter of his Formula 1 career with Aston Martin, but there’s no sign of him changing approach.

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR23

“I'm very demanding in everything that I do,” he said at the launch of Aston Martin’s new car, the AMR23, earlier this week. “I give my 100%, and expect the same of the people that I work with.”

It’s an obsession for the best that has fuelled frustration in the past and even caused relationships within teams to snap. Alonso was open last year in his belief he was performing at his best level since 2012, when he came so close to the title in a sub-par Ferrari, only for Alpine’s reliability struggles to cost him a sizeable haul of points.

It was therefore little surprise that Alonso heralded the reliability of the Aston Martin package, and particularly its Mercedes engine, during his test day in Abu Dhabi at the end of last season. His excitement about the direction of the team, enjoying significant waves of investment from owner Lawrence Stroll, has been clear ever since the bombshell move was announced on the first day of the summer break.

Although Alonso got a taste of what life would be like with Aston Martin in Abu Dhabi, it was not until 1 January that he could properly get up to work. But since then, he has thrown himself into everything the team has been doing as they bid to create, in the words of Stroll Sr, “one of the greatest Formula 1 teams that will be”.

Stroll’s commitment and the resulting culture of the team is something that Alonso feels aligns with his own demanding approach.

“Since the first day at Aston Martin, I felt exactly the same values from the people around me,” he said.

And Alonso claims to be getting happier by the day in his decision to jump ship, even if he rues that time is not on his side to enjoy the success they are working towards.

“We have the investment, we have the facilities, and we have the talent, so it's just a matter of time,” he said. “Unfortunately, I'm not 20, but I will do my best to help the team.”

Alonso stresses that he grows increasingly content with his decision to join Aston by the day

Alonso stresses that he grows increasingly content with his decision to join Aston by the day

Photo by: Aston Martin Racing

That help is exactly why Aston Martin want Alonso to be his unfiltered, honest self. This will be year three of Stroll's five-year plan for Aston to become a front-running team, and it feels embracing Alonso’s demanding style is an effective way to grow stronger.

“I’ve found him to be very honest and transparent,” Aston Martin team principal Mike Krack said of Alonso. “We are really happy with his demanding attitude. It pushes us forward, and we are prepared to go the extra mile. It is the only way to move on up the grid.”

Aston Martin has made no secret of its aggressive approach to the AMR23’s design, and the noises about its progress over the winter have been encouraging. But if things don’t go to plan, and frustration grows for Alonso, the team is already braced to tackle things head on.

“Obviously if the car is not what we want it to be, then there will be some difficult conversations,” said Krack. “But we’ll have to be prepared to have them, because there is no hiding. I think you cannot hide in front of Fernando Alonso.

“We go open visor into the discussions. Be honest, be open, be transparent, and I do not expect any issues then.”

Alonso’s feedback has already been impressing the team. Following his sole day of running in Abu Dhabi, he got another day in the 2022 car at Jerez earlier this month as part of a tyre test. It gave the Aston Martin crew another chance to work closely with Alonso and see how he ticks.

“Fernando is very engaging, very focused,” said performance director Tom McCullough. “He’s very efficient with how he talks as well. When he’s describing the car, when he’s describing the way he thinks a report should be written, a configuration on the steering wheel, there’s no wasted words. It’s just focus, focus, this is what we should be doing, this is my idea.”

Alonso had his first chance to get to grips with the 2022 Aston Martin in the Abu Dhabi post-season test

Alonso had his first chance to get to grips with the 2022 Aston Martin in the Abu Dhabi post-season test

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

McCullough added that Alonso had been “a pain” to race against over the years.

“He’s always there week in, week out, qualifying well, racing well,” he said. “You listen to him on the radio, and he’s all over the strategy of the car in front of him, behind him, what they’re doing with their tyres, where he is relative to them. It’s been great fun getting to see some of that, but I’m really looking forward to seeing him in a qualifying and race situation.

“It’s like an extra, very experienced, good engineer, and someone who is so fiercely driven and competitive.”

Even before the launch on Monday evening, complete with various media commitments and the unveiling itself, Alonso had spent four hours in the simulator that morning.

“That’s the kind of push that we’re getting from him,” said McCullough. “He’s massively motivated, he’s pushing us all really hard because he wants to do really well, just like we do."

Alonso’s approach is one that Aston Martin is already buying into as a way to improve in the future, tying in to the five-year plan. Alonso may feel fitter than ever, but he says he knows the true highs for Aston Martin may not arrive until he has left. Even if he may not directly benefit, he is ready to give his all to help make it happen.

“If I'm driving, it’s good,” he said. “If I'm not driving, if one day we have an Aston Martin dominating races and championships and the two drivers are fighting for the championship like Red Bull, with Sebastian [Vettel] and [Mark] Webber, or [Lewis] Hamilton and [Valtteri] Bottas, to help these guys fight for a championship will be a proud moment for me, being part of these first steps in this brand.”

Read Also:
Will Alonso reap the fruits of his efforts at Aston Martin?

Will Alonso reap the fruits of his efforts at Aston Martin?

Photo by: Mark Sutton

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