Fernando Alonso has claimed his main goal for the rest of the 2022 Formula 1 season is “to go to Abu Dhabi and test the green car”, as the Aston Martin-bound driver sounds increasingly jaded ahead of his Alpine exit.
Two-time F1 world champion Alonso clashed with team-mate Esteban Ocon twice in the Brazilian Grand Prix sprint race on Saturday and picked up a penalty for the second of those incidents, in which Alonso drove into the back of Ocon’s car when pulling out too late from behind him on the start-finish straight.
Alonso’s frustration and weariness with his 2022 season has become increasingly clear of late and seemed to peak in Mexico two weeks ago when he suffered his fifth mechanical-related retirement of the year.
In Brazil, though, he had no desire to disguise how much he wanted to close the chapter on his third stint at Team Enstone.
It was most obvious when asked if he would have protested more about Ocon’s role in the clashes were they not team-mates, and he replied: “It’s the penultimate race. I just want to go to Abu Dhabi and test the green car. So that’s my main goal now.”
Alpine will probably not be impressed that Alonso stated so openly that his primary objective is just to drive for his new team already.
Especially when there is a job to do for his current one, which is fighting for fourth in the championship – an objective Alonso actively harmed on Saturday.
Both drivers did. Alonso was to blame for the second while Ocon should have left more room in the first incident. That’s why Alpine felt the need to publicly state both drivers had let the team down.
Alonso’s weariness with his season is understandable in the sense that his machinery has failed him much more than he has failed Alpine. But if you were looking for an example of impeccable professionalism then Alonso’s glib reference to wanting to get on with testing for Aston Martin wasn’t it.
Neither were some of his radio messages. Thanking “our friend” for breaking his front wing (when it was Alonso’s fault) was one thing, as emotional radio messages in the moment are easily forgiven.
But having made it back to the pits, taken a new front wing and tyres, and rejoined the track, Alonso felt the need to get on the radio halfway round his out-lap to say: “So he pushed me in Turn 4, and then finally on the straight. Well done.”
Later in the race it got worse. Having caught Ocon (ailing with damage from the Turn 4 contact) he was told his team-mate was now the car ahead.
Alonso made it clear he wanted Alpine to move him aside, radioing in the middle sector: “I mean I nearly got killed in Jeddah…in Budapest…” That reference to previous close calls between them months ago was just needless hyperbole, followed up with an unnecessary instruction when he was close behind Ocon into the first corner: “So we move him out of the way, Turn 4.”
There was little sense of unity in all of this. Though that’s not to say Alonso has given up on Alpine – far from it, based on his high-quality recovery drive to at least salvage a few positions post-pitstop.
His pace was so good, in fact, that having ended lap three 41 seconds behind race winner George Russell, he was only 49 seconds behind at the flag. That was a Sergio Perez/Charles Leclerc level of performance…
Alonso absolutely has the capacity to star in the final two races. It would be foolish to discount a burn from the stern in Brazil and a sensational farewell performance in Abu Dhabi.
But he has made it sound like at least a part of him is simply counting down the hours before he can start afresh. If that’s the case he must not let an excellent season end on a self-inflicted low ebb.
Alonso would be far better served signing off from Alpine showcasing, yet again, why it will sorely miss him in 2023, rather than letting this end with any air of belligerence that will risk questions about whether yet another union is ending less than harmoniously.