Szafnauer’s Surprise

05 August 2022

Sebastian Vettel has announced that he is retiring from Formula 1 at the end of the 2022 season.

Aston Martin says Fernando Alonso has signed a ‘multi-year deal’ to race for them in a surprise move out of the blue.

And what a surprise it was; Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer says he only found out about Fernando Alonso’s move to Aston Martin when he read the official press release.

Szafnauer said he felt confident that Alonso was ready to sign a new contract for the 2023 season with a further year option for the 2024 racing season. Szafnauer said that he had spoken with the Spaniard and asked if he had signed for any other team, and Alonso assured him he had not.

Fernando is no spring chicken, born 29 July 1981; he will turn 42 when he officially races with Aston. With age, he brings significant experience. He won the series’ World Drivers’ Championship in 2005 and 2006 with Renault and has also driven for McLaren, Ferrari, and Minardi.

Sebastian Vettel’s retirement announcement came after Aston Martin ‘requested’ he make a decision before the summer break as the team had already been in talks with Fernando Alonso for a ‘few weeks.

It seems that Alonso and Laurent Rossi, currently the chief executive officer at Automobiles Alpine and Alpine F1 Team, disagreed vehemently over the extension duration with Alpine, the Spaniard wanting two years and an option for a third. In contrast, Rossi only wanted to give him one to leave the seat open for Oscar Piastri to come in 2024.

Apparently, Alpine offered a one-year deal with a caveat referring to his continued performance; if his achievements were positive, Alpine would extend his contract.

But Alonso felt he wanted more certainty, and who can blame him?