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

As it was 9 a.m. and the light at the end of the pit lane was green, Alonso promptly sprang from the Aston Martin garage, galloping in careless livery, blank overalls and a camouflaged helmet, and was the first man out of the pit lane.

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

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

Less than 18 hours after making his final appearance in the Alps in the final of the Formula 1 season, Alonso had already begun his life with Aston Martin by completing a seat fitting on Monday and getting to know his future teammates. Although he wouldn’t officially start until January 1, Alonso knew the test would be an important opportunity to get ahead in the game for 2023.

The main reason for running on Tuesday at Yas Marina Circuit was to sample Pirelli tires and help the young drivers – including Alonso, as in 2020… – to get more track time. But there are still some things we can glean from Alonso’s first Aston Martin test, and some early signs of what we can expect from the new partnership.

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR22

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR22

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Pictures

The first test justified the move to Alonso

When first opinions were made about Alonso’s decision to ditch the Alps for Aston Martin in 2023, one of the simplest questions was: Why did he leave a fourth-in-the-championship team for one-ninth?

Alonso has always said it was about the potential Aston Martin showed, and the team set ambitious targets under Lawrence Stroll’s ownership. Construction of a new factory at Silverstone is ongoing and, by all accounts, is moving at an impressive pace. The team realized where the new regulations had gone wrong, but showed good flexibility in reacting for a late attack that left them one point short of beating Alfa Romeo for sixth.

Alonso said after the test that he was “90% happy” when he signed the deal with Aston Martin in late July, with the remaining 10% probably a result of a lack of performance there all year up to that point. “When they started to improve and finished the season on a high, I was 100 percent,” he explained. “This morning, I was 100 and now I’m over 100.”

Although Alonso noted that the car’s philosophy was “very different” compared to what he had at Alpine, he didn’t seem to have difficulty with it, saying it was “well behaved”. He noted that on his first run he had clocked 1d 26.6s and joked, “It’s three-tenths of my best time – so the adaptation is almost done!”

Energize with a fresh start

Alonso would hardly begin his life with Aston Martin at a very low ebb. His performance up to 2022 has been undeniably impressive, so much so that he maintained until Sunday in Abu Dhabi that it was his best F1 season since his close to the title in 2012.

But frustration with Alpine’s reliability struggles and the impact on his final points tally – 11 points short of Esteban Ocon’s garage-wide tally – was nothing Alonso hid. On Sunday night in Abu Dhabi, he said his retirement from racing due to a water leak was “the summation of the season”. Commenting that the Aston Martin’s engine mileage is “high by my standards” before completing the 97-lap test shows that it’s still a sore point.

Alonso has made many new starts in F1 over the past 20 years, but there is a clear energy he feels with Aston Martin. This is not like 2021, when he was returning after two years out and needed time to get up to speed. He feels he is performing at his best, and sees the potential around him for the team to go much further.

“I definitely can’t be overconfident, because next year everything will change,” said Alonso. “But the feeling I had today in the garage with the players and the potential of the team, and the talent I see in the engineering room here is amazing. I’m really, really, really happy now.”

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR22

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR22

Photo by: Carl Bingham / Motorsport Images

Comfort in the car is the most important thing to fix before next season

Alonso said Saturday in Abu Dhabi that this test will be “like gold” for him and push him to get up to speed with Aston Martin for 2023, attacking things like seat position, pedals, steering wheel button placement and functions, and the car’s general systems.

It’s small things but important and in the end it was the hardest part of Alonso’s day, jumping right into an Aston Martin and learning in the living conditions. The only big blemish on his day was the seat, which he said needed an adjustment before his next run because the left side of his back was “a bit sore.”

During his 97 laps of running, Alonso was making a mental list of everything in the cockpit that was different and the adjustments needed. Alonso said that given that the Aston Martin in 2023 would be “nowhere near” what he drove today, focusing on those smaller elements was more important to him than a sense of the car’s balance or characteristics. Muscle memory should be rewired after two years with Alpine.

“It’s not the balance itself or the behavior of the car.” Alonso said when discussing what he was working on. “The gear shift tones, the pit lane, the dash messages when you make a change, the duration of the dash pop-up, the message, that sort of thing, you’re used to one setting. Now, you’re trying to adjust to [do things] in a more natural way. Perhaps this kind of thing is the priority right now.”

Alonso knows this could be his last venture in Formula One

And the added insistence with which Alonso has made things work with Aston Martin also comes from an inescapable fact: he’s getting bigger.

Alonso, at 41, is comfortably the oldest driver on the grid, but Aston Martin’s multi-year deal means he could be nearing his mid-40s by the time discussions over renewal happen.

He’s showing little sign of slowing down, staying as hungry and competitive as ever. But he admitted after taking the test that he felt “maybe more” optimistic about the move, saying: “This [new] The project, probably the last in my career, and they have a very big investment.”

Alonso isn’t looking to wait, and neither is Aston Martin. This was evident in today’s 97-lap race, or his eagerness to get out on the track or in the garage on Monday. Clearly, hopes are high, and a fresh start could be just what he needs – and be a huge motivator for the team in its quest to get into the top table in F1.

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR22

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR22


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Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Pictures

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR22

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR22


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Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Pictures

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR22

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR22


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Photo: Michael Potts/Sports Pictures

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin


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Photo: Michael Potts/Sports Pictures

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR22

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR22


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Photo: Michael Potts/Sports Pictures

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR22

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR22


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Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Pictures

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

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