Fernando Alonso accused of switching to Aston Martin for this reason

Fernando Alonso shocked the F1 paddock by announcing that he'd be replacing four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel at Aston Martin.

Double World Champion Fernando Alonso has been praised for ditching Alpine for Aston Martin, with respected broadcaster Mark Gallagher hailing the Spaniard for “playing a blinder”.

Following a two-year spell with the Enstone-based team, Alonso shocked the paddock after the Hungarian Grand Prix by revealing that he’d be replacing Sebastian Vettel at Aston Martin in 2023, on a two-year deal with the option for a third.

The switch came as a surprise given that Alonso was expected to sign an extension with Alpine; however, Gallagher believes the entire Alonso/Alpine situation was down to the French team being naive.

“We’ve had the Alonso thing happen, and carelessness? I’m not sure,” Gallagher said on the GP Racing podcast.

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“Perhaps naivety. I think you can get wrapped up in believing what everyone says is the truth. If a driver is constantly sitting in press conferences, saying ‘I love driving for this team’, you can start to believe the driver is really committed to you, irrespective of what the contract says.”

As well as being a broadcaster and F1 author, Gallagher was previously a press officer at Jordan, meaning he worked with Michael Schumacher when he made his rookie appearance.

Gallagher compared Alonso’s situation to Schumacher’s situation in 1991, where he made his debut for Jordan before moving to Benetton for the following race, despite the team having “loved having him”.

“I mean, the reality is when Michael drove for Jordan at Spa in 91, we had a great weekend,” Gallagher said.

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“He enjoyed himself, we loved having him. From a purely human perspective, you would have thought that we were going to continue together. The reality is there are other forces in play. And, in the case of the Vettel retirement announcement, that was always going to trigger a big move.

“Alonso, faced with the prospect of not having a long-term commitment, he’s now been in the team long enough to realise he’s very unlikely to score anything substantive there. So there’s a window of opportunity. He knows Lawrence Stroll likes having a big name and the team is good for the Aston Martin PR, good for the brand – it means whether they win, lose or draw, you’re going to be capturing lots of attention.

“So, you know, Alonso has played a blinder. You have to remember you’ve got none other than Flavio Briatore behind him, one of the architects of the Schumacher/Benetton years. So there’s a lot, there’s a kind of a separate world of drivers and contracts and managers who look at things from a very different perspective, it’s purely about business.”

Given Alonso’s age, it would be understandable if part of his reason for switching to Aston Martin was due to the salary he was offered, with the 41-year-old likely reaching the end of his racing career.

Gallagher pointed out that an F1 driver can secure a “life” for themselves and their children by putting an extra “10, 15, 20 million in”, with this year’s silly season having been a reminder that F1 is still a “brutal world”.

“It’s about ensuring the longevity of drivers’ careers, it’s about maximising the income from that because you don’t know how long your career will last,” Gallagher said.

“And therefore, if you can put another 10, 15, 20 million in – that’s going to make a big difference in your life later on. And also for your kids.

“You are talking about drivers now earning the kind of money that secures not only their lives, but the generations that follow them if they’re lucky enough to have kids. So the reality is, there’s a lot on that business side that has got nothing to do with the niceties of the human relationships in teams.

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“I think what’s happened this summer is we’ve had a stark reminder that that brutal world hasn’t disappeared.

“I think there’s been a slight softening of expectations around the driver market in recent years, because it’s been relatively stable and the moves have been quite well-planned.

“There’s been a lot of long-term driver contracts put in place, if we think about Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen. So, essentially, we’ve had a lot of stability – this summer has been a stark reminder that it’s still a cut-throat environment.”