“Animal” Alonso’s revival catches Verstappen’s eye: “He’s a real racer and he deserves” a win

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Photo credit: Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant F1 Team

Perhaps the most surprisingly strong performance of 2023 has been Aston Martin, currently sitting third in the constructors’ standings. The team has recorded five podiums in seven races, all at the hands of two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso, who, weeks from his 42nd birthday, has seen a resurgence in results that has him third in points after seven races, on pace for his best season result since finishing second in back-to back seasons a decade ago.

Far from an aberration, Alonso’s performance has been seen as a reiteration of a talent that scored two championships in the mid-2000s but had been saddled with underachieving equipment for much of the last 15 years. Alonso’s last win came with Scuderia Ferrari at the 2013 Spanish Grand Prix.

No less than current two-time defending champion Max Verstappen has taken notice. In remarks before this weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix—a race both he and Alonso have each won once—Verstappen called Alonso the “one driver who I would like to see win a race this year”.

I think after so many years of having a car which is only capable of driving in the midfield, maybe you lose a bit of that love. He’s a real racer, an animal.[…] I like him, he’s a real racer and I think he deserves it.

While much improved from 2022, Aston Martin still have not had the full-race pace that Red Bull have had, and Mercedes overtook them for second in the constructors’ championship on the strength of their double-podium at Barcelona a fortnight ago.

The last time Formula One was at a fast street circuit was at Jeddah, when Alonso landed on the podium behind the Red Bulls of Verstappen and Sergio Perez. With their latest upgrades it remains to be seen if Aston Martin can keep pace with Mercedes Still, Alonso and Aston Martin are firmly in the hunt, and at this point podium finishes have been the rule rather than the exception in 2023.