Alonso's attitude spoke volumes: 'El Plan' can be forgotten

Alonso's attitude spoke volumes: 'El Plan' can be forgotten

28 February - 11:08 Last update: 11:14

With drooping shoulders and a bowed head, Fernando Alonso looked at his smoking A522. On the internet, the memes were already flying by about 'El Plan', but is it really over for Alonso if things don't work out with Alpine and how fast can it go?

Alonso's wrong choices

Alonso stressed it once again before the winter test in Barcelona: 'For this rule change, I came back to the sport'. The Spaniard left McLaren at the end of 2018 and disappeared from the Formula One stage to clear his head. After his second world title at the age of 25 in 2006, Alonso seemed to be on his way to breaking all records, but nothing turned out to be further from the truth.

The great talent turned out to have a knack for making the wrong choices. First at McLaren, where he left after one season with slamming doors because a certain Lewis Hamilton, in his eyes, was favoured. Then he went back to Renault and in 2010 to Ferrari. With the Italian team he came close to the title in 2010 and 2012, but Sebastian Vettel's Red Bull was simply too fast.

The biggest mistake Alonso made was in 2015, opting for the McLaren-Honda project. It was a gamble that turned out badly for all parties. Disillusioned, the great talent stepped out of Formula 1 at the end of 2018, having achieved his last victory and podium in 2013.

Back to Renault

Upon his departure, however, it quickly became clear that it was not Alonso's plan to leave F1 behind forever. He wasn't done yet. In 2021, new regulations were planned in which the driver would again become the most important factor. Following should become easier, the cars should be closer together and so the driver could make the difference. Fernando saw this as his chance and returned to Alpine in 2021, despite the rules being pushed back to 2022.

There wasn't much choice for Alonso. Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari already had frontrunners in house and even McLaren did not consider Alonso when Carlos Sainz left for Ferrari. Aston Martin and Alpine were then the only teams with the financial means to join the top. Alonso chose his old love with whom he won his only world titles in 2005 and 2006.

Unrest within Alpine

While Renault triumphed between 2005 and 2006 under the strict leadership of Flavio Briatore, however, Alpine are far from finding that flow. In fact, in recent years it has been particularly restless within the team. One restructuring after another caused the departure of Cyril Abiteboul, Alain Prost and this winter also Marcin Budkowski. Otmar Szafnauer will take over, but that was not announced until early 2022.

However, in 2021 the foundations were laid for the A522 to compete in the first year of the new regulations in 2022; this was done by the previous management, which has already been thrown out. With a budget cap and limited time for testing, a backlog is not easily made up, so a good period for Alpine at the start of the 2022 season is all that matters, especially for Alonso.

Although the Spaniard still considers himself a youngster, he is already 40 and will be 41 during this season. Alonso is not working on a long-term project, he will want to achieve success in the short term, because he can no longer sustain a longer project.

Disbelief at Alonso

The image in Barcelona during the third day of testing actually said it all - Alonso has experienced this more often. A long run-up to the season with high expectations, but then during the test day your new car stalls. Smoke came out of his car and Alonso's whole attitude showed his disbelief.

It's only testing, but Alpine's entire winter test didn't look particularly hopeful. While McLaren and Ferrari seem to have found the connection to the very top, Alpine lost the entire Friday after Alonso's incident. It meant a lot of lost test time and it's not the first time Alpine/Renault has missed out on a test.

Alonso left McLaren because he was done racing in the midfield with no chance of winning. Although the 2022 rules should bring the teams closer together, as a driver you still need a good car. The A522 doesn't seem to be that yet and so the question is how long will Alonso like it?

Alonso came back with only one goal: to become world champion. If he soon realizes that it will not work out at Alpine, he will probably disappear for good to classes like IndyCar, WEC and Dakar where he can compete for victory. In that respect it is good that Alpine has Oscar Piastri as his successor, because with a very bad car the Spaniard could even quit during the season.

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