Fernando Alonso said his intention is to win again in Formula One after completing a shock move to Aston Martin.
The double world champion was revealed as Sebastian Vettel’s replacement just four days after the 35-year-old German announced he will retire at the end of the year.
Alonso’s multi-season deal will see him remain on the grid beyond his 43rd birthday.
— Formula 1 (@F1) August 1, 2022
His capture is a major coup for Aston Martin, who moved at speed to land a grandee name after Vettel informed them last Wednesday he would not continue beyond this season.
It is understood Alonso initially staged informal talks with the British team earlier this year, before agreeing terms on a contract which could run to as many as three seasons.
Alonso’s contract with Alpine was due to expire at the end of the season and talks over a renewal had stalled.
“I still have the hunger and ambition to fight to be at the front, and I want to be part of an organisation that is committed to learn, develop and succeed,” said Alonso, who won two consecutive championships for Renault in 2005 and 2006.
“This Aston Martin team is clearly applying the energy and commitment to win, and it is therefore one of the most exciting teams in Formula One today.
“We all appreciate that there is much to be done to get to the front, and that we must apply all our energies in working together to find performance.
“The passion and desire to perform that I have witnessed convince me to maintain my enjoyment and commitment to the sport. I intend to win again in this sport and therefore I have to take the opportunities that feel right to me.”
Alonso last won a race at the 2013 Spanish Grand Prix, but he has proven in his 18 month-spell at Alpine that he is still one of the grid’s top drivers – out-performing his machinery to secure a front-row grid slot in rain-hit qualifying at June’s Canadian Grand Prix.
The 41-year-old has also finished in the points at the last eight races.
Aston Martin have so far failed to deliver since their return to F1 last year after decades away.
They are only seventh of 10 in the constructors’ standings following Sunday’s Hungarian Grand Prix – the final round before the summer break.
But the team’s owner Lawrence Stroll, who last year set out a five-season plan to become world champions, convinced Alonso to sign.
Mick Schumacher, the son of seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher, had been mooted as a possible contender for the seat.
But it is understood that the young German was never viewed as a credible replacement for Vettel.
Stroll said: “I have known and admired Fernando for many years and it has always been clear that he is a committed winner like me.
A point in the bag and plenty of positives from today’s race.
— Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant F1 Team (@AstonMartinF1) July 31, 2022
“I have set out to bring together the best people and develop the right resources and organisation to succeed in this highly competitive sport, and those plans are now taking shape at Silverstone.
“It seemed natural therefore to invite Fernando to be part of the development of a winning team, and we very quickly established in our recent conversations that we have the same ambitions and values, and it was logical and easy to confirm our desire to work together.”
Alonso began his career in 2001 and has won 32 times from 346 appearances. He starred for Renault, beating Schumacher to two championships, before joining, and then quitting, McLaren after just one season following a turbulent campaign alongside the then-rookie Lewis Hamilton.
He returned to Renault before a four-year period at Ferrari where he came close to winning the title on two occasions. After falling out with the Italian team, he went back to McLaren, but the switch proved desperately unsuccessful and he took a two-year sabbatical at the end of 2018.
Alonso, 10th in this season’s standings, will partner Stroll’s son, Lance, next year.
The highly-rated Australian Oscar Piastri, 21, is in line to fill Alonso’s vacant seat at Alpine next season.
We wish Fernando the best for his future in Formula 1. Fernando has always been, and always will be, part of the Renault and Alpine family and we’re proud and privileged to have shared so many on-track moments together. pic.twitter.com/hyZOVdOKHb
— BWT Alpine F1 Team (@AlpineF1Team) August 1, 2022
Alpine tweeted: “We wish Fernando the best for his future in Formula One. Fernando has always been, and always will be, part of the Renault and Alpine family and we’re proud and privileged to have shared so many on-track moments together.
“We look forward to finishing the remainder of the 2022 season with Fernando in blue, and we’ll keep pushing to the maximum until the final lap in November.
“The team will announce its driver line-up for the 2023 Formula One season in due course.”