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Autosport Top 50 of 2023: #5 Fernando Alonso

4th in the Formula 1 World Championship 

Top 50 2023 dotcom5

Top 50 Drivers of 2023

Autosport's team of expert journalists got together to try to assess who were the top 50 drivers of 2023. Here are the results.

Think back through Fernando Alonso’s long Formula 1 career. Once he’d become a race winner with Renault 20 years ago in 2003, his star potential was clear. Then, rather a lot changed.  

Endurance tyres for 2005, a whole new driving style with the change from Michelins to Bridgestones in 2007, the car rules changing in 2009, 2014, 2017, 2021, Pirellis from 2011, and more. Plus, all those team changes. Yet his class has endured, his adaptability perhaps the greatest and yet most underrated in his armoury, such is his tenacity that steals the focus.

Well, Alonso had a new challenge in 2023: write another fresh chapter, this time with Aston Martin. Only the Monaco victory going begging – not his fault – could have capped this year as even better. The green team wasn’t yet ready to sustain a season-long challenge, as Alonso always insisted. But he’s already made clear it has to be in 2024, with “some consistency” his first stated target for its new car, along with improving “the straightline speed”.  

PLUS: Ranking the top 10 Formula 1 drivers of 2023

Alonso had to adjust to Aston’s power steering design and it was intriguing to watch him making regular slips exiting Bahrain’s tricky, tyre-testing Turn 4 during a trackside wandering there in FP3 of the season opener. They would carry on into the race, where he achieved that first Aston podium, and through the early part of the year. An adjustment to the power steering system in Miami helped things, but Alonso insisted that this and other parts of the AMR23’s package will need another winter reset to aid him further in 2024.  

Eight podiums were the statistical highlights of a season where Alonso again showed his immense worth to F1. Yes, there were more low moments that Alonso in his prime would have managed better – the Barcelona Q1 off, crashing out of the Spa sprint, the Singapore gaffes – but his Zandvoort and Brazil podium drives were sublime.  

In the Netherlands, his skills in adapting served him well in the changing conditions; at Interlagos, his long defence against Sergio Perez, then excellent short attack, enlivened a race that had long since grown tedious with Max Verstappen’s march to another win. This and so many other moments instilled life into a campaign that was so lacking thanks to Red Bull’s brilliance.

Alonso finished on the podium eight times in 2023

Photo by: Erik Junius

Alonso finished on the podium eight times in 2023

How Alonso has continued to assist Lance Stroll  

Remember back in the early part of the year, when Alonso was coaching his team-mate Lance Stroll in the other Aston Martin via team radio messages back to the squad’s massed engineers?  

Well, he says that “kept happening” through the second half of the season, even as Aston’s pace potential waned in the close pack behind Red Bull. The chatter was, Alonso claimed to Autosport at the Abu Dhabi season finale, something he and Stroll wanted as part of their new relationship as team-mates.  

“I don’t know if it was broadcast or not, but yeah, we’ve always been feeding back,” Alonso explained. “And both ways – it’s not only me.

"We are trying not to help each other in a very specific way, it’s just a continuation of the conversations that we had maybe two hours ago [before each race]" Fernando Alonso

“I heard in Mexico the team telling me to move the brake balance a lot further forwards because Lance was benefiting from doing that and the rear tyres were just cooler. So I think it’s both ways and we’ve been doing the same.  

“But I think this is a consequence of how much we talk and we prepare on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays – so when you jump in the car it’s like, ‘Lance, what we talked about in the parade lap, this is happening now in the race’.  

“So, we are trying not to help each other in a very specific way, it’s just a continuation of the conversations that we had maybe two hours ago [before each race].”

 
Alonso struck up a strong partnership with Stroll in 2023

Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

Alonso struck up a strong partnership with Stroll in 2023

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