RACE DEBRIEF

    Fernando Alonso described a “very special” experience as he formally swapped Alpine for Aston Martin on Tuesday and took up the seat vacated by the retired Sebastian Vettel at F1’s post-season test in Abu Dhabi.

    With the paddock staying on at Yas Marina to carry out tyre and young driver testing, fans got a first glimpse of the changes up and down the grid for the 2023 season – which include Alonso’s move from Alpine blue to the green of Aston Martin.

    GALLERY: Check out Alonso, Gasly, Piastri and more as they debut for their new teams in Abu Dhabi test

    Asked to summarise the first few runs with his new team, during which he racked up 97 laps, Alonso commented: “It was good! It was a very nice experience. I feel honoured to drive for such an iconic brand.

    “It was a very special day, having the first go in the car and trying to feel also the differences [between Alpine and Aston Martin]. Obviously, we raced two days ago here, so it’s very fresh and it’s very useful.”

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    Alonso got to know the Aston Martin team, and their 2022 challenger, in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday

    Referencing a busy programme on and off the track, the two-time champion added: “I tried to meet all the mechanics, the engineers, and [I will] try to remember a lot of new names, for sure!”

    Along with his new surroundings at Aston Martin, Alonso sampled Pirelli’s revised 2023 tyre compounds during the test – with updated versions being handed to the drivers after FP1 evaluations at the recent United States and Mexican Grands Prix.

    READ MORE: ‘We achieved most of the targets’ – Pirelli’s Mario Isola talks 2022 successes, changes for 2023 and sustainability

    Giving his initial impressions of the new rubber, Alonso said: “It felt good. I think the tyres were not too different compared to last year. Obviously, they tried to improve a few weaknesses that we had in 2022.

    “They felt good – even on the extreme heat, now at midday. I think tyre-wise we should be very good in 2023.”