“I know that my time behind the wheel is not unlimited, but I will try to make this process as short as possible and help the team as much as possible.” – Fernando Alonso
Fernando Alonso is the new flagship of the Silverstone team. The Spaniard traveled from Oviedo to England on Sunday, after spending Friday and Saturday at his go-kart circuit and museum, where he was filming. On Saturday he took some time to chat with friends on the circuit, no helmet, just watching them on the track.
Fernando’s 41 years do not show, and he knows it. “I’m like 20 years old,” he says, and in truth, he’s slimmer and fitter than ever. The former Alpine rider chose Lawrence Stroll’s project because he saw the right path to success. At the end of the presentation of the new car, Fernando launched a declaration of intent that shows once again how competitive it is.
Are you happy with your decision to come here after joining the team?
“Yes, very happy and I am happier every day. Honestly, I came to the factory regularly in January. I worked on the simulator with all the pilots helping us, Stoffel (Vandoorne) and Felipe (Drugovich). They are constantly talking about the simulator and how to improve it. There is a lot of teamwork, and I like that. For the last two months, the pilots, and all departments for that matter, have been following the model in the wind tunnel. Today we finally saw the real car. I think fans will also appreciate the fact that we launched the car. Sometimes it’s disappointing to see a mockup with different decals and no real car.
What did you find in this team different from what you experienced on other teams?
“Well, I think Formula 1 is a bit different these days. We don’t have the freedom to develop the car. There are a lot of restrictions and regulations, there is less creativity. So, it’s all based on the details. It’s a matter of quality in every core aspect of our work. I think the background of this team comes from the previous names in this factory. Everyone here is humble. Everyone here is hungry for success. Maybe they haven’t had the experience of fighting regularly for wins, championships, or podiums every weekend, but they’re confident in themselves and know they can do it.
They’ve never done it, however. So, in this sense, they are very different from any other team I’ve worked with, where they’ve been successful in the past, and so they were in a comfortable position. If they came in fourth, they were happy with being fourth, and if they came in fifth, they were happy to be fifth. If they came in seventh, they would celebrate being seventh. Here we don’t celebrate until we win and that’s very attractive.”
Do you still have hopes of winning races and a third World Championship? And do you think you can do it with this team?
“I think so. Yes, it’s a possibility. I don’t think this will happen this year, I’m honest about it. I have my feet on the ground. I can’t tell anyone we will fight for wins this year because I would be lying. But at the same time, we want a good car to start with, and develop it over the course of the season. And maybe in the second half of the season, we can get closer. If there is an opportunity, conditions can change, and we won’t miss it. But at the beginning, I expect some tough races until we find that the car’s setup works for the first five or six races. With the Alpine I struggled a lot to feel the front end, there were different power-assisted steering setups… there were all these things. This year we only have one and a half days for each driver to test in Bahrain. I will not be 100% in Bahrain, Jeddah, or Australia. So that’s a little unfair, maybe. This is the only sport in the world where you train for a day and a half and then compete for a world championship. In a way, I think that I have a point of reference in Lance, as he has been with the team for years. I know what 100% is, so I can get close to that value. And yes, we will see. We have a better chance to fight for wins and podiums next year if we have a good base this year. This year we will not be in the position we should be, but we’ll see”.
Your teammate is your boss’s son. How do you deal with this? Are you afraid that there may be complications?
“Not really. I’ve been in F1 long enough to know different things and experience different teammates and personalities. I was thinking of Jacques Villeneuve when you asked the question. That was quite an experience. We only had three races, but yeah, it was fun. And yes, I think with Lance it’s a little different. I feel a little differently, as I already mentioned in Abu Dhabi, or during this winter. I have faith in this project. I know it will probably be the last team I will drive for. But I don’t know, I’ve known Lawrence and Lance for many years. I’ve known Lance since he was a child in the Ferrari academy in 2010, so we have known each other for 12 years. And now we have this wonderful opportunity to share the team, to work together for an Aston Martin that hopefully can compete in championships in the future. So, if I’m driving, it’s fine, and if I’m not behind the wheel, it will be fine too. I already said it in Abu Dhabi, and I say it now: I will be very proud to be a part of this organization in any way, and if one day we have an Aston Martin dominating races and championships and two drivers fighting for the championship like Red Bull, with Sebastian and Webber or Hamilton and Bottas you know, helping these guys fight for a championship, it will also be a proud moment for me, as I am part of this brand since the inception”.