FERNANDO ALONSO will join Aston Martin for next season after agreeing a multi-year deal – but will it bring success or end in disaster?
The ever-green Spaniard, 41, will replace Sebastian Vettel, who is quitting F1 at the end of the season to spend more time with his family.
The two-time world champion is expected to earn around £25million a year from Aston, as team owner Lawrence Stroll digs deeper into his huge pockets.
Stroll, whose son, Lance is the other driver in the team, has invested heavily into their F1 operation and the luxury car brand.
Alonso's signing represents the latest attempt to propel the F1 team to their goal of winning titles, despite falling towards the back of the grid in recent years, despite substantial recruitment.
Alonso said: "This Aston Martin team is clearly applying the energy and commitment to win, and it is therefore one of the most exciting teams in Formula One today.
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"I have known Lawrence and Lance for many years and it is very obvious that they have the ambition and passion to succeed in Formula One.
"I have watched as the team has systematically attracted great people with winning pedigrees, and I have become aware of the huge commitment to new facilities and resources at Silverstone.
"No one in Formula One today is demonstrating a greater vision and absolute commitment to winning, and that makes it a really exciting opportunity for me.
"I still have the hunger and ambition to fight to be at the front, and I want to be part of an organisation that is committed to learn, develop and succeed."
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Throughout Aston Martin's history, the car company has been saved from bankruptcy a number of times and under Stroll's ownership is it again proving tricky to steer into the black.
A recent deal with the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund has released extra capital while the Canadian billionaire recently assured customers they were working through a back-log of orders due to a supply issue with parts.
His decision to hire Alonso is understandable, for he brings a wealth of experience and is still one of the quickest on the grid, despite his age.
But Alonso does have the potential to upset teams, especially when things are not going well.
His second spell at McLaren – when they were hamstrung by their Honda engine – was excruciating and he publicly taunted the team for their poor performances.
The disintegration of that relationship (again) was staggering as he drove a wedge between the Japanese company and McLaren as the team environment went toxic.
That's something Aston cannot afford to happen – no matter how much money Stroll throws at the project in the form of recruitment and their new multi-million pound factory.
Because, as we have seen in the past, having money doesn't guarantee success.
The biggest reminder is when Toyota announced in 1999 that it would be coming into the sport and the assumption was that, given the Japanese car giant's resources, they were assured of victories.
But despite three poles in 139 GPs, Toyota never won a single race between 2002 and 2009, let alone challenge for the title, as is Stroll's ambition.
For the meantime, he is committed but should Alonso's move backfire, then it could add up to another costly mistake.
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Alonso's exit at Alpine will open up a space for Australian driver Oscar Piastri, which is good news for F1 because he is excellent.
Piastri won the Formula Renault title in 2019, Formula Three in 2020 and the Formula Two title in 2021.
Barmy rules meant he had to leave F2 as the champ and with no space on the grid he was forced to wait his time.
But now it has come and Alpine should grab it.
Schmitz and giggles
WE are now safely in the era of Max Verstappen's domination following his excellent victory in Budapest, which means he has an 80-point lead in the championship.
We are seeing the same level as Vettel at Red Bull in 2013 when he went into the second half of the season and won nine races in a row.
However, away from the TV cameras, while Verstappen's performance at the Hungaroring was excellent – it was not a patch on that by his strategist, Hannah Schmitz.
She absolutely aced the timing of his pit stops to perfection and nailed the tyre choice as Ferrari faltered and Mercedes played catch up.
While the joke memes flooded Twitter portraying Ferrari's strategists as clowns, Red Bull have an absolute gem in Schmitz, their Principle Strategy Engineer.
O-ver the top
VERSTAPPEN has slammed idiots who burned Mercedes merchandise at the Hungarian GP.
A video circulated on social media showing a £45 black cap being set on fire as the bad-blood surrounding some of his supporters continues.
The Dutchman was asked about it after the race and he said: "That's of course not acceptable. These individuals, I definitely don't agree with that, because that's just disgusting.
"Overall, I think the majority of the fans were cheering throughout the race, and also on the podium, for every driver. That's how it should be, but that video of burning merch, I think that's disgusting."
MOTOGP star Fabio Quartararo is trying to secure an F1 test later in the year.
The MotoGP champion was at the French GP and spent time with Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes team in the hope of getting something finalised.
It is not the first time a rider has tried his luck on four wheels.
Valentino Rossi often flirted with F1 and tested for Ferrari a number of times between 2004 and 2010.
No more protests
SILVERSTONE chiefs are working with police to ensure there is not a repeat of the protests that marred the British F1 GP at this weekend's MotoGP race.
Environmental campaigners breached the fences and made their way onto the track in a dangerous sit-down protest.
And now track bosses and local police are switching their attention to this weekend's MotoGP race to ensure it runs smoothly.
By Russell Lanning
AUSTRALIA ended their 20-year wait for a world team title after winning the Speedway of Nations in Denmark at the weekend.
They beat Great Britain – who won the crown last year – with Aussies Jack Holder and Max Fricke beating Brit stars Robert Lambert and Dan Bewley in the final.
GB’s three-times world champion Tai Woffinden was unable to race in Saturday's meeting after suffering a back injury in a training accident.
Speedway’s next major event is the British Grand Prix at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff on August 13, with home favourites Woffinden, Lambert and Bewley all set to appear.
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