He’s still as miserable and brilliant as ever, although I sense he is contemplating his long-term future within Formula One. And he should. At the age of 42, Fernando Alonso is still driving magnificently. However, Aston Martin isn’t performing at its peak, a lapse in development has veered the team off course. This is somewhat expected for the Silverstone-based team, which was originally incorporated as Jordan Grand Prix in 1991.
Throughout its history, the Jordan team also experienced bursts of performance followed by similar mid-cycle development lapses, often due to limited resources. Although a cost cap should eliminate such downturns in form, it appears that the team formerly known as Jordan now known as Aston Martin isn’t firing on all cylinders. Although at the recent Brazilian Grand Prix Alonso secured a feisty and much-deserved podium.
Alonso favours the raw taste of success, and if it eludes him, he will promptly gather his belongings, move on, and join the next team. While there is speculation about Red Bull’s interest, it’s just one of the many rumours circulating in the paddock, as credible as a scenario involving highly advanced simian astronauts returning to Earth after an intergalactic voyage only to find it now ruled by English-speaking Homo sapiens living a stone age existence who now have the whip hand over the once-dominant simian species.
Alonso’s commitment has never been in question. During his time at Ferrari, he dedicated his soul to the team, pulling an uncompetitive car by the scruff of the neck and transforming it into a winner. Despite achieving wins, championship honours eluded him. Eventually, he grew frustrated and decided to part ways.
Alonso knows one thing to be true: his time in F1 is running out. He joined Aston Martin because someone or something convinced him that the team could deliver podiums, wins, and possibly a championship trophy. Podiums, yes; wins, perhaps; championships, no. For once, not even the mighty Alonso can make a difference because Aston Martin is a 5-year commitment, and then what?
Will the wins materialize after 5 years? Perhaps a few, but Alonso is currently on a two-year contract, and what happens after that? Extend for a year, maybe two? He doesn’t need the money; he’s still driving magnificently, but to what end? Formula One is not a lifestyle choice; it is a demanding sport, whether during a Grand Prix weekend or not.
Being a professional sportsperson is a transient occupation; ultimately, full and permanent retirement will loom for Alonso. Otherwise, Martin Brundle would still be driving in F1. When Alonso retires for the second and final time, he can do so with honour. It will not be a melancholic moment because he has provided Formula 1 fans with numerous memorable moments.