Damon Hill doesn’t understand why Fernando Alonso has chosen to leave Alpine and drive for Aston Martin next season.
Silly season was sparked into life when Sebastian Vettel announced that he was to retire at the end of the 2022 campaign.
Soon after the German did so, shockwaves were sent through the sport with Aston Martin announcing that Alonso would replace him next year and beyond.
It was such a surprising development largely because while Alonso’s current team, Alpine, have been the strongest midfield outfit this year, Aston Martin have more often than not been a backmarker.
Given that, many people can’t wrap their head around the Spaniard’s decision to make such a move, and Hill is one of them.
“I was very surprised to hear that he’d gone to Aston Martin,” he said on the F1 Nation Podcast.
“Obviously, when Seb left there was an opening, but the kind of guy Fernando Alonso is and the kind of guy that Lawrence Stroll is and the ambitions they have for the team, why would you want to be at a team that is struggling?
“Fernando has to retire eventually and it’s possibly going to be the last team he’ll be with… why would you want to be struggling and having frustrations?”
Many claim that he’s only joining the British team because he’s been offered a huge salary, but the former World Champion doesn’t think that’s the case.
“Even if he’s been convinced there’s going to be some massive turnaround taking place, it can’t be the money… I just don’t believe he’d do it just for the money,” he added.
Alonso has been hugely impressive since returning to the grid with Alpine last season, often looking as good as he ever has despite his advanced years.
Indeed, while team-mate Esteban Ocon has been improving and currently holds more points than the 41-year-old this season, Hill’s in little doubt that it’s a big blow for the team.
“Let’s assess what this is,” he said.
“I think a team like Alpine want to be a serious player and in Alonso you have a serious player. Yes, you can have Esteban Ocons and other drivers, but Fernando has this charisma about him and his reputation.
“He’s totally no-nonsense, he’s business-like. He goes in there and picks up the team on what they need to focus on, he’s directing things from the cockpit.
“I think he’s been a real asset to Alpine, but they’ve been caught out. This totally surprised me.”
Just who will take Alonso’s place at the French team is very much unclear.
They initially intended for it to be junior driver Oscar Piastri, but it has since emerged that he has entered into a deal with McLaren, one that has now been all but confirmed by the announcement that Daniel Ricciardo will be leaving the British team at the end of this season.
The Aussie returning to his former team is a possibility, with rumours stating that Alpine are considering him and Mick Schumacher.