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As 9 a.m. rolled around and the light at the end of the pit lane turned green, Alonso immediately stormed out of the Aston Martin garage, racing in a no-sponsor livery, blank overalls and dazzling camo helmet, and was the first man to come out of the pit. way.

He did the same when the session resumed after a red flag for Oscar Piastri’s stoppage in the third hour. But was it a coincidence?

“No,” he said. “And yesterday here in the paddock.” Again, he was the first man to enter. Obviously, there was no time to waste.

Less than 18 hours after making his last Alpine appearance in the F1 season finale, Alonso was already starting his life with Aston Martin by performing a seat fitting on Monday and getting to know his future colleagues. Although it won’t officially start until January 1, Alonso knew the test would be an important chance to get a head start for 2023.

The main reason for Tuesday’s race at the Yas Marina circuit was to try the Pirelli tires and help the young drivers – not counting Alonso, as was the case in 2020… – get more track time. But there were still a few things we could glean from Alonso’s first test for Aston Martin, and some early signs of what we could expect from the new partnership.

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR22

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

The first test only further justified the move to Alonso

When the first opinions were expressed on Alonso’s decision to abandon Alpine for Aston Martin in 2023, one of the simplest questions was: why leave a team fourth in the championship for a ninth?

Alonso has always said it was about the potential Aston Martin was showing, with the team setting ambitious targets under the ownership of Lawrence Stroll. Construction of a new factory at Silverstone is underway and, by all accounts, is progressing at an impressive speed. The team acknowledged where they were going wrong with the new regulations, but showed good flexibility as they reacted to mount a late charge that left them one point behind beating Alfa Romeo to sixth in the standings. .

Alonso said after the test he was “90 per cent satisfied” when he signed the deal with Aston Martin at the end of July, with the lingering 10 per cent possibly a result of the lack of performance there had been. throughout the year up to this point. “When they started to improve and finished the season with a bang, I was 100 per cent,” he explained. “This morning I was 100 and now I’m over 100.”

Although Alonso noted that the car’s philosophy was “very different” to that he had at Alpine, he didn’t seem to have trouble getting into the right rhythm, saying it “handled well. “. He pointed out that in his first race he had a lap time of 1m26.6s and joked: “That’s three tenths of my best time – so the adaptation is almost complete!”

Energized by a new beginning

Alonso will just start his life with Aston Martin at a particularly low level. His performances through 2022 have been undeniably impressive, as he even claimed in Abu Dhabi on Sunday that it was “absolutely” his best season in F1 since coming close to the title in 2012.

But frustration over Alpine’s reliability issues and the impact on his final points tally – 11 points less than Esteban Ocon’s in the garage – was not something Alonso was hiding. On Sunday night in Abu Dhabi, he said his retirement from the race due to a water leak was a “summary of the season”. The comment about Aston Martin’s engine mileage being “high by my standards” before completing a 97-lap test shows it’s still a sore point.

Alonso has had many fresh starts in F1 over the past 20 years, but there is a clear energy he feels with Aston Martin. It’s not like 2021, when he was coming back after two years away and needed time to catch up. He feels he is at his best and sees the potential around him for the team to go much further.

“I can’t be too confident for sure because everything will change for next year,” Alonso said. “But the feeling I had today in the garage with the guys and the potential in the team, the talent I see in the engineering room here is exceptional. I’m really, really, really happy in this moment.

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR22

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR22

Photo by: Carl Bingham / Motorsport Images

The comfort of the car is the main thing to fix before next season

Alonso said in Abu Dhabi on Saturday that this test would be “like gold” for him and his drive to upgrade with Aston Martin for 2023, attacking things like seat position, pedals, placement and steering wheel button functions, and general car systems.

It’s a small but important thing, and it’s ultimately the trickiest part of Alonso’s day, jumping straight into the Aston Martin and learning in real world conditions. The only big downside to his day was the seat, which he said needed adjusting before his next race because the left side of his back was “a little sore”.

Over the 97 laps of racing, Alonso reportedly made a mental list of everything that was different in the cockpit and what adjustments were needed. Alonso said that since the Aston Martin car in 2023 won’t be “close” to what he’s driving today, it was more important for him to focus on those smaller elements than to have an idea. the balance of the car or its characteristics. Muscle memory needs to be rewired after two years with Alpine.

“It’s not really the balance itself or the handling of the car.” Alonso said while discussing what he was working on. “Shift tones, for the pit lane, dashboard messages when you make a shift, how long the message is displayed on the dashboard, that kind of stuff, you’re used to a setup . Now you try to adjust to [do things] more naturally. This stuff is probably the priority now.

Alonso knows this could be his last F1 project

The added determination that pushes Alonso to make things work with Aston Martin also comes from an inescapable fact: he is ageing.

At 41, Alonso is comfortably the oldest driver on the grid, but a multi-year contract with Aston Martin means he could well be approaching his 40s by the time renewal talks take place.

He showed few signs of slowing down, remaining as hungry and competitive as ever. But he acknowledged after the running test that he felt “maybe even more” optimism about the move, saying: “It’s a [new] project, maybe the last of my career, and they have a very big investment.

Alonso is not looking to wait, and neither is Aston Martin. That was clear in his 97-lap run today, or in his eagerness to get out on the track or in the garage on Monday. Hopes are clearly high, and the fresh start could just be what it needs – and be a big catalyst for the team in their drive to join F1’s top flight.

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR22

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR22


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Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR22

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR22


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Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR22

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR22


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Photo by: Michael Potts / Motorsport Images

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin


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Photo by: Michael Potts / Motorsport Images

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR22

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR22


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Photo by: Michael Potts / Motorsport Images

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR22

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR22


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Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR22

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR22


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Photo by: Carl Bingham / Motorsport Images

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin


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Photo by: Carl Bingham / Motorsport Images

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR22

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR22


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Photo by: Carl Bingham / Motorsport Images

What we learned from Alonso’s first Aston Martin Formula 1 test

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