Can Fernando Alonso ward off ‘Father Time’ long enough for one more run at the championship?


This season is only four races old, but Fernando Alonso needs to decide on his future beyond this year sooner rather than later.

Formula One’s eldest driver is out of contract with Aston Martin following this campaign, his 21st in the sport since debuting what feels like a lifetime ago with Minardi in 2001.

Whilst the double World Champion has lost none of his hunger; in fact, he appears fitter than ever despite turning 43 in July, Alonso has to be questioning how much longer he wants to be making up the numbers.

The Spaniard won’t have won a race in eleven years next month, which was accomplished on home soil at Barcelona with Ferrari. Following a two-year sabbatical after a forgettable second McLaren tenure, his return to the grid with Alpine in 2021 didn’t bear much fruit, though his switch to Aston Martin in 2023 initially yielded much more competitive results.

#JapaneseGP thoughts from Fernando. ????

— Aston Martin Aramco F1 Team (@AstonMartinF1) April 7, 2024

Despite eight podiums, results dried up in the back half of last season, and Alonso’s confidence in the project moving towards the regulation reset in 2026 could dictate his longevity.

The only option to justify a move from his current employer that isn’t into retirement is Red Bull, which seems content with Sergio Perez’s output at recent races, finishing second with consistency, even after the Mexican could manage no better than fifth in Australia with Max Verstappen suffering brake failure in the early stages of the race.

Alonso demonstrated that his racecraft and wiles aren’t wanting at Melbourne, with his cunning braking tactics culminating in the trailing George Russell’s penultimate lap crash. This earnt Alonso a penalty which dropped him from sixth to eighth, though it spoke to his warrior mentality.

Alongside his late race pass on Perez to secure third at Brazil last year, it’s evident that Alonso will chase or defend every position with his life, but there must be a point where he decides that if that fight isn’t for victories and championships then he’s wasting his time.

Signing off from Suzuka. ????????

Fernando comes home in P6, with Lance making up places to finish P12 in the #JapaneseGP.

— Aston Martin Aramco F1 Team (@AstonMartinF1) April 7, 2024

The spectacle of one of the last old-school racers pitted against the younger generation has been a sight to behold, yet it’s a travesty that the sport has been deprived of Alonso’s contention at the pointy end of the field for so long notwithstanding last year’s flourish.

This is also a product of the Spaniard’s political machinations, which have burned several bridges that could have provided pathways to greater success. His first McLaren tenure in 2007 ended acrimoniously and it feels like his career and each of his subsequent moves have been coloured by the events of that season.

Fernando Alonso of Spain driving the #14 McLaren-Renault MCL33. (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)

He might be willing to ride out 2025 in a midfield car, as is currently the case, if success appears to be a good thing the following season, but the new regulations are undoubtedly Alonso’s final opportunity to make a run for his third title.

This isn’t a certainty considering the Spaniard’s propensity for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, see McLaren 2015-18. Alonso had an offer to join a then unproven Red Bull in 2009 before his preceding stint at Ferrari from 2010-14, and we all know what transpired, so there’s always a risk that another move won’t pay off even if it currently appears promising on paper.

Given carte blanche to decide his home beyond this season, it might be that despite Red Bull’s renewed and rampant success since 2022, that Alonso views the decision to develop its own engines from 2026 in technical collaboration with Ford, as riskier than plumping for Mercedes or remaining at Aston Martin, which will inherit factory Honda engine support from Red Bull in 2026.

But Father Time might hasten Alonso’s resolve and desperation, and with nothing to lose, spur one last roll of the dice to fulfil the championships which slipped through his grasp in 2007, 2010 and 2012.

Fernando Alonso. (Photo by Peter Fox/Getty Images)

It’d be peak Alonso to join Red Bull only for the team to experience a form downturn. Instability from recent off-track developments could erode long-term culture, and the decision to go its own way on engines could quite literally backfire, meanwhile Ferrari will surely be dangling the carrot of designing a title-winning car for an incoming Lewis Hamilton in front of chief technical officer Adrian Newey, having narrowly failed to land his services a decade ago.

Alonso would have coveted a Mercedes berth not so long ago, yet the German manufacturer has appeared rudderless in recent seasons, none more so than in the wake of Hamilton’s imminent departure.

It could be that he’s seen enough at Aston Martin since joining the operation that he has faith in their ability to produce at least a championship-contending car from 2026 and he’ll back himself to do the rest.

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Whether Alonso goes around for another year, or two, or three, or he instead finally decides to hang up his helmet without a third title, it won’t be for a lack of trying and he can only be applauded for sticking around as long as he has when many would have walked into the sunset.

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