Ahead of his move to Aston Martin for 2023, Alonso was allowed to complete his first run with the team earlier this week in post-season testing at Yas Marina Circuit.
Alonso completed 97 laps in the Aston Martin AMR22 and said he was now “100 per cent” happy with his decision to leave Albin for the British team after round one.
But the car had to test without any sponsors due to Alonso’s existing agreement with Alpine, meaning it was stripped back to its base green livery, with badges only for Aston Martin, Pirelli and the FIA. Alonso also had to don black overalls and a dazzle camouflage helmet design for the day.
When Alonso first walked into the garage alongside Aston Martin ambassador and former Grand Prix driver Pedro de la Rosa on Tuesday morning, they both realized it was similar to what he experienced with Jaguar in 2002.
“We went into the garage together this morning, and we saw the green car,” Alonso said when asked about the connection by Motorsport.com.
We both said, “This is exactly like Jaguar in 2002!” But yeah, this is definitely a completely different project.
Fernando Alonso, Jaguar R3
Photo by: Motorsports Pictures
Alonso was working as a test driver for Renault until 2002 when he was recruited by Jaguar Formula One boss Niki Lauda to complete a test in an R3 car at Silverstone at the end of May.
The season saw de la Rosa racing for Jaguar alongside Eddie Irvine, but the team struggled with form, scoring just eight points and finishing seventh in the standings, and its form improved after the introduction of a B-spec car mid-year.
“When Fernando came in this morning, we were looking at the unbranded car, and I joked to him because it was 2002, we had a test with Jaguar,” recalled de la Rosa in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday.
“I was racing there. They brought Fernando in to say how fast that car could go, because Nicky started thinking myself and Eddie were having fun out there! The car was unbranded, green, he had all white, and now he has black.
“I looked at him and he said do you remember? And 20 years later, it was exactly the same scenario: green car, in unbranded overalls.”
At the time of his testing in 2002, Alonso was linked with a possible move to Jaguar in the Spanish media, and although he set the third fastest testing time at Silverstone, he maintained that he was “only thinking about Renault” for the future.
Renault would eventually hand Alonso a race seat for 2003, when he became the youngest race winner in F1 history before winning championships with the French manufacturer in 2005 and 2006.