Fernando Alonso has achieved unprecedented success in his first three races with Aston Martin, securing three consecutive podiums with the British team.
Alonso’s decision to join Aston Martin last season shocked the paddock, triggering a series of events and driver changes throughout the grid.
Whilst the Spaniard’s role in changing the complexion of the 2023 grid was undeniable, there was plenty of scepticism about his latest bold career move.
Although Aston Martin was already closing the gap to Alpine and McLaren at around the halfway stage of last season, the decision to leave 4th-place Alpine was seen as a potentially catastrophic decision.
On paper – for all of Aston Martin’s investment under Lawrence Stroll – an engine manufacturer like Alpine would appear to have better chances of threatening the top three teams than a customer team.
Perhaps on a gut level, this was Alonso’s first instinct. After all, the Double World Champion only made the decision to change teams after failing to progress in his negotiations with Alpine.
The French team failed to offer Alonso the multi-year deal he wanted, giving him enough motivation to consider other options that would provide more security on the F1 grid.
Fast-forward to the start of 2023, and this decision has proven something of a masterstroke.
However, as quoted by racefans, the Spaniard still wants to manage expectations for Aston Martin this year:
“The aim for the team is just to have a good season. They were struggling a lot in 2022.
“So I think we have to walk before [we] run. And I think the 2023 campaign is just about getting better.
“Getting to know the car better [and] start a new project from day one. That’s where we are at the moment.
“Hopefully, we will have more podiums. Hopefully, we fight for race wins. But I think to fight for the Championship; I think we need to… set the team a little before doing that.”
Considering Aston Martin’s unique position as a new challenger at the front of F1, the expectations surrounding the British outfit will be significantly raised.
The development of the AMR23 has no doubt been impressive, but maintaining this level of performance – relative to Ferrari and Mercedes – will be critical.
Both these manufacturers have suffered difficult starts to 2023, but they can be counted upon to find improvements and make progress mid-season.
With this in mind, Fernando Alonso and Aston Martin’s success will depend on their ability to replicate the Silverstone squad’s strong mid-season development from last season.
The next few rounds will demonstrate how successfully Aston can build upon their dream start to the year.