RACE DEBRIEF

    Fernando Alonso has admitted that Lewis Hamilton’s upcoming move from Mercedes to Ferrari caught him off-guard.

    Deep in winter training mode to prepare for his second season with Aston Martin, Alonso had no heads up that Hamilton’s decision to join the Scuderia for 2025 onwards was about to ignite the driver market at a very early stage – before a wheel had even been turned in anger in the 2024 season.

    “I was training actually that day, so I missed the stress from everybody and was one day late to the news,” Alonso said. “It probably was a surprise, I will not lie, not because of the change itself, it was just because from the outside it seemed like he was very linked with Mercedes and very loyal to them and it was a little bit unexpected.

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    “But I don’t know the inside, I don’t know the reasons behind, I don’t know anything, I don’t know the stories so it’s more a question for him… It was not his childhood dream 12 months ago no? Or two months ago I guess, because he had a different dream so nothing really to comment.”

    ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - NOVEMBER 23: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes looks
    Hamilton is set to join Ferrari from 2025 onwards

    Alonso spent five years with Ferrari himself, fighting for the title with the Scuderia in 2010. But that third world championship proved elusive and, in the end, he opted to leave Maranello after the team failed to build a championship-contending car in 2014. But fast forward a decade, and Ferrari come into this season buoyed with confidence as the only team to take a win off the all-conquering Red Bulls last year.

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    “I hope [Hamilton] enjoys the experience, it is a very special team,” Alonso continued. “It is more special when you win and that’s the thing, you need to win and it’s a few years already that they have a very fast car and are fighting for big things. And maybe Lewis can bring that extra to fight for the championship, as I said the car is there.

    “Even at the end of last year with a very dominating Red Bull car, Ferrari were still able to match the lap time and be faster than them in most of the qualifying [sessions]. I think the car should be fast enough.”

    Spanish Scuderia Ferrari Formula One racing team racing driver Fernando Alonso sitting in the
    Alonso is uniquely qualified to comment on Hamilton's move, having been a Ferrari driver himself

    With Hamilton moving to pastures new from 2025 onwards, Alonso was quick to point out that he is the only world champion on the grid who will be available that season – as he continues to show no signs of slowing down despite being in his mid-40s. As a result there has been speculation linking the Spaniard to Hamilton's soon-to-be-vacant Mercedes seat.

    “I’m aware of my situation right now, which is very unique," Alonso said. “There are only three world champions on the grid, and fast world champions – because maybe in the past they were not so committed to be fast – and yet I’m probably the only one available for ‘25 so I have a good position.

    “But at the same thing, when I make the decision of whether I want to keep racing or not in the future, first the only talk I will have in the beginning is with Aston Martin because that will be my only one priority.

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    “And then the number I will keep racing, a few years ago I would have said 42, 41 is the limit. But now after last year, when I saw myself motivated and performing well, I was thinking maybe that I can keep racing a few more years.

    Fernando Alonso of Spain, Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant, portrait during the Formula 1 Pirelli
    Alonso is showing no signs of slowing down as he sets his sights on more success in 2024 with Aston Martin

    “Now this winter, I have been exceeding a little bit the physical expectations and tests I did, so now I would say that if you are motivated and if you want to commit, you can drive to 48 and 49 or 50.”

    Fans should expect to see Alonso around for a few more years then – but whether he stays with Aston Martin or causes more shockwaves in the driver market remains to be seen.

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