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Formula 1

Everything we learned about Alonso's new Aston Martin deal

9 min read

Aston Martin only needed five words from Fernando Alonso - “I am here to stay” - to announce it had convinced him to sign a new Formula 1 contract.

But within half an hour of that unconventional, Michael Jordan-referencing press release, the F1 media heard Alonso’s full reasoning for committing to Aston Martin until at least 2026 rather than holding on for potential chances at Mercedes or Red Bull.

Here’s what we learned about his thought process.


Fernando Alonso Aston Martin Bahrain Grand Prix 2024

Though Alonso characterised his decision to stay at Aston Martin as “easy” and suggested the situation regarding his future “didn’t change much from when we spoke in February at the car launch”, he readily admitted when asked by The Race that talks with other teams had taken place.

He presented those talks partly as a cursory standard process of checking out the market, but also suggested he didn’t feel enough commitment from the other parties. 

“It’s normal when you enter negotiations, you need to balance a little bit what is the market, you need to listen to everyone else as well because this is a normal procedure and I think it’s fair as well to listen to all the proposals and to see how the market moves,” he said.

“But in my head Aston was the logical thing for me to do. And at the end it was also the best and I felt the most wanted in Aston Martin.

“All the other conversations were just light and never came to any other conclusions, maybe more time was needed, all these kind of things, while in Aston  it was a clear desire to work together. That’s why it came very easy.”

Alonso reminded his audience that in Jeddah last month he’d described himself as “little bit outside” of the frantic driver market triggered by Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes-to-Ferrari move and had been adamant he would “dictate my destiny for good or for bad”.

Which was another way of saying he wasn’t interested in holding out for options that might take time to unfold - such as whether Red Bull’s internal turmoil would lead to a shock vacancy in Max Verstappen’s car, or Sergio Perez (and his potential in-house replacements) would underperform enough to open a different route into a Red Bull, or whether Kimi Antonelli didn’t progress fast enough for Mercedes to be confident in a 2025 promotion direct into its main team.

As Alonso put it: “Without looking at the rumours or what other people are doing, or what deadlines other teams or drivers have, we dictate our own pace.”

And Aston Martin was willing to move at the same pace when it came to nailing down a 2025/26 contract. So if Red Bull or Mercedes do conclude they need an alternative for next year, Alonso won’t be available.


Fernando Alonso

When asked about his 2025 options over the last few months, Alonso has regularly referenced the possibility that he might not even be on the grid - despite Aston Martin’s willingness to commit to him for the long term having been so crucial in it luring him in the first time ahead of 2023.

But that hint of mulling retirement was more about F1’s off-track and travel demands than his love for driving or assessment of his own competitiveness.

“It was not a racing factor, it was more the travelling,” he explained. “Looking at this calendar I was a little bit afraid that this will be heavy on me.”

That meant he “needed a few races or weeks to really think of myself, if I was ready to commit for more years in Formula 1”.

While Aston Martin’s started 2024 in better shape than it ended 2023, it’s certainly not replicating last year’s early-season form when Alonso was Red Bull’s biggest rival.

But any time Alonso was asked if the hint of Aston Martin plateauing had been a factor in him asking himself whether it was worth staying in F1, he dismissed that, expressed his huge faith in his team’s long-term plans, and directed discussion back to the calendar and ultra-committed nature of life in F1. 

“My love for Formula 1 and Aston Martin didn’t change, I just wanted this time to really speak with myself,” Alonso said.

“Obviously Formula 1 takes all your time, all your energy. You have to give up basically everything in life to keep racing.”

It didn’t take him many races in 2024 to conclude that he was happy to continue.

But can the 42-year-old be sure he’ll still feel that way in 2026?

“I will never be 100% sure,” he replied when asked that question.

“But I felt I love the driving too much. I cannot stop at the moment.

“And I think the sacrifices you have to make are smaller than the joy of driving and the passion I have.

“I breathe Formula 1. I live Formula 1. I train to be fit to drive Formula 1 cars. I eat to be fit to drive Formula 1 cars.

“My lifestyle is great and I love what I do so I will not be happy sitting at home watching Formula 1 races because at the moment I still feel I should be there.”


Fernando Alonso McLaren Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 2015

Alonso and Honda’s first F1 experience of each other couldn’t have gone much worse, given how Honda’s early struggles on its return to the grid stymied McLaren and how openly Alonso complained about that.

In 2026 they’ll reunite, as Aston Martin becomes Honda’s works F1 team.

Surprising? Then again, you wouldn’t have ever expected Alonso and McLaren to work together once more after the explosive events of 2007 yet time healed that wound. The same looks true of Alonso and Honda. Helped by Honda racking up wins and titles with Red Bull and Verstappen.

“It didn’t work for us in McLaren, but right after that they fixed all the problems and they are currently dominating and they’ve been world champions for the last few years,” Alonso said of Honda.

“They will have a baseline for 2026 that is already very strong.

“But also they have the capacity in Sakura of building something really nice. I visited Sakura in 2014-16. I didn’t visit yet at the moment but I know that they are really, really motivated there.

“And obviously with the sustainable fuels in 2026 this is something I would love to experiment with, and with Aramco we have a great partner. So I see a win-win situation.”

Convincing upgrades played their part

As well as proving to himself he had it in him to commit to more seasons in F1, Alonso also wanted to judge Aston Martin’s progress across the early races. Key to that were the upgrades that were introduced at each of the four races to date. 

The biggest package among those appeared last time out at Suzuka, where Alonso took on the new parts that included a new floor, engine cover bodywork and a modified beam wing.

While the Aston Martin has been, on balance, probably the fifth-strongest car, Alonso has picked up good results in all four races, peaking with fifth place in Australia and sixth in Japan.

“I wanted to see how we perform,” said Alonso. “We didn’t start on the podium positions, but we are very close to the top four teams apart from Red Bull. 

“There are going to be some races that we are more competitive at, some races that we are less [competitive] at but in the first four races we introduced four new parts of the car, every race we had an upgrade. So this is something that was quite encouraging and quite nice to see.

“The team is making progress. It’s never quick enough in Formula 1, it is a very demanding environment. But 18 months ago, 22 months ago, we had a very small building, the ex-Jordan factory, and now we are half-a-tenth up and down with Ferrari, with Mercedes, with top teams.”

“Longest-ever contract” will keep him at Aston beyond driving

Fernando Alonso

When Alonso originally signed for Aston Martin, there was talk about the potential for a long-term future with the company after he retired from racing. However, there was nothing covering that in the contract.

This new deal changes that, offering not only the possibility he could continue to race beyond 2026 but also a future beyond that thanks to what he claims is the “longest contract” he’s ever signed.

“It’s a lifetime project, in a way, for me,” said Alonso.“This is something that will give me a link with Aston for many, many years to come. Let's see which role, let's see how many more years I will drive.

“But even after driving, I will use 25+ years of experience in Formula 1 plus another 10 or 15 outside Formula 1, so nearly 40 years’ motorsport experience, in the benefit of a team that gave me this opportunity in this moment in my career.

“This is also very appealing for me and I'm extremely motivated for the next years to come.”

Alonso won’t be drawn on how long he will continue to drive for, primarily because he “cannot predict when I will stop racing”. But it’s clear he’s pinning his colours to the Aston Martin mast in a way that goes beyond driving its F1 cars.“I will not go into the specifics of how many years but it's a lot of years to come with Aston and to make some progress in other areas,” he said when asked by The Race about the full length of the contract.

“When I'm racing, I will do my best to win with this team and to be competitive. But I will feel the same [and] we can achieve some great things and success even when I'm not driving. I can support the team to achieve great things even in a different role.”

No thoughts of retirement

Fernando Alonso

Alonso is adamant that retirement never crossed his mind, despite the fact he had to test whether he had the resolve to commit to more draining F1 seasons of 24, or perhaps even more, races.While walking away from F1 was an outside possibility, he is adamant that competition driving will remain a part of his life for years to come.

“Not really, it never went to my mind, retirement,” said Alonso. “When I stop Formula 1, I will race elsewhere, maybe Dakar or something like that.

“For me, it's very difficult to really think about a life without a steering wheel in my hands. That will never happen - or not in the short term. I had 99% confidence that I will keep racing next year, so retirement was not an option.”

Set on Dakar return…and maybe Le Mans

Fernando Alonso wins 2018 Le Mans 24 Hours with Toyota

Alonso’s success outside of Formula 1 means his love of extra-curricular activities is well known. While he says F1 has his full attention for the next couple of years, he remains determined to return to the Dakar Rally and didn’t rule out getting involved with the Aston Martin Valkyrie World Endurance Championship project that kicks off next year.

“At the moment, not,” said Alonso when asked about plans for competing elsewhere alongside his Aston Martin F1 commitments. “I’m super-focused on Formula 1 and that will be the only thing in my head.

“I can nearly 100% say that I will try Dakar in the future, when I stop Formula 1 that will be something that is still in my head.

“And with Aston there is the Valkyrie as well in Le Mans, starting next year. So who knows if that will also be a project that I can help somehow, driving or outside driving.

“I would love to see Aston Martin winning in any category, in any condition. That will help the brand, which I feel part of. I feel part of the Aston Martin Formula 1 team, but at the end of the day also the road cars and everything. So we want the best for the brand.”

The reality of the F1 schedule and date clashes means he’s unlikely to race for Aston Martin at Le Mans while racing in F1, although it can’t be ruled out completely. The Dakar Rally could at least fit in, although he’s unlikely to take on such a big challenge in the short off-season even if Aston Martin permitted it.

But what’s clear is he still has unfinished business outside of F1, even if he’s going to have to wait before taking that on.

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