How Aston Martin were able to pounce on signing Fernando Alonso

Fernando Alonso is interviewed. Monza September 2022.

Aston Martin believe their ability to make decisions quickly was key in securing the services of Fernando Alonso.

The two-time World Champion swapped the blue of Alpine for the green of Aston Martin during the summer break when he announced he would be leaving the French side having agreed a two-year contract with the Silverstone-based constructor.

10 years on from Hamilton’s move from McLaren to Mercedes, one of the riskiest but proving to be brilliant career moves in F1, there have been question marks other Alonso’s logic and what it was that persuaded him to sign for an, on paper, poorer performing team.

But the talk around Aston Martin has changed of late. Former Red Bull head of aerodynamics, who now works at Aston Martin, believes there is a similar feeling to his previous team’s beginnings and with money behind it, the Aston Martin project could prove very successful in 2023.

There still would have been some convincing to do though and the team believe that the speed they can operate at was crucial in stealing Alonso from under Alpine’s noses.

“I think the team has always been very agile,” Aston Martin performance director Tom McCullough said, as per Motorsport.com. “It’s been a small race team and, at its core, there are a few key people making the decisions. It’s not a big bureaucratic company.

“I go back from the race weekend, my job is to report to Andrew Green [chief technical officer], and Dan Fallows who has also joined us recently as technical director as well. That slightly changes the structure, but we’re trying to keep the good bits of how we used to work, but add what we need to do to lift the level as well.”

Another example of this speed that McCullough highlighted came during the opening third of the season when Aston Martin ditched a whole car design in favour of their B-spec, a car that has been able to get better results.

Sebastian Vettel leaves the garage. Italy September 2022

“As we sat down, we were trying throughout winter testing and the first few races to bring parts to the car to get on top of the porpoising, and to give a bigger operating window to the car.

“But you get to a point where, even with your development tools, windtunnel, CFD simulations, and track tests, we weren’t making the progress we wanted to make.

“Then you have to at some point, say ‘okay we need to do something.’ During the development phase of the car, we had gotten two different routes. We even designed the chassis to accept the radiators for two different routes, all this kind of stuff.

“We said, okay, this first route looked good but then we’d underestimated the porpoising problem, so let’s try the other philosophy.

“We went back to the data we had, we then started working with that in the windtunnel again and bang, we brought it to the car as quick as we could do. There was a huge push from the manufacturing and production side to get it to Spain.

“There was a phenomenal amount of work to do that. When it was announced. I didn’t think there was any chance to get two cars there. We had no spares, but we turned up and that was it.”

2023 could be the year it all comes good for Lawrence Stroll’s Aston Martin project

For anyone who recalls Lawrence Stroll’s Twitter video of 2020 where he accused rivals of “dragging our name through the mud” following the ‘Pink Mercedes’ allegations, they may not label the man on screen as a patient one.

But those are the exact words team boss Mike Krack recently used to describe him. For Stroll, this project has cost him a considerable amount of money and as of yet, the team are not where he wants it to be.

His goal of challenging for not only race wins but Championships seems a long way off but there is a general feeling that 2023 could be a big year for the team.

Aston Martin team owner Lawrence Stroll looks into the camera. Italy, April 2022.

Fallows has been in place since April and while his input on the 2022 car will have been minimal, we are sure to see the influence he has had on the 2023 model.

Alonso is joining the team and brings with him not only an ability as one of the best drivers on the grid even at the age of 41 but also a demanding personality that will settle for nothing less.

Having been the owner of Racing Point and now Aston Martin for four years, 2023 will be the year Stroll wants to start seeing some return on his investment.

 

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