until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Formula 1

A statement drive that drew a line under years and years wasted

by Mark Hughes
2 min read

As The Race reflects on the 2023 motorsport season - one that featured a record-equalling Formula 1 schedule, no fewer than 39 MotoGP races, and no shortage of on- and off-track drama in IndyCar and Formula E - we’ve asked our writers to recount their standout motorsport memory or feeling from the past 12 months.

Mark Hughes takes us back to the opening race of the F1 season and the start of what was a resurgent campaign for a double-world champion who'd long been away from the front of the field.

It was actually at the first race of the season, in Bahrain, for me, that was the standout in 2023.

More specifically, it was the tone of Fernando Alonso’s race in the new Aston Martin.

It was such a characteristic fighting and creative display from him - the way he overcame the Aston’s lack of straightline speed by dummying Lewis Hamilton at a part of the track never previously recognised as a passing place, the on-the-limit late-braking pass on Carlos Sainz.

Coupled with the confirmation that the new Aston was indeed as fast as testing had suggested, it promised a season in which Alonso’s intrepid, audacious drives were sure to be part of the texture of the season in a much more visible way than when in the mid-grid cars of those long wilderness years.

Our 2023 memories so far

As one of the most intense competitors the sport has ever seen, it had been such a waste.

Now he was back in the spotlight and for me that was a great feel-good story.

Within a field boasting maybe the greatest depth of talent in the sport’s history, Alonso in his 40s had forced his way back into the reckoning. By sheer stubborn will.

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