Fernando Alonso will be the next world champion *outside of Redbull. Whilst I would love the first half of that statement to stand on its own, if we’re being realistic there’s seems to be no stopping Redbull at the moment. Alonso’s championship hopes don’t bear much fruit this year, but given the drastic strides that Aston Martin have made in the space of the year who’s to say that they won’t be able to competitively challenge Redbull in 2024?
Alonso’s prime seems to have no expiration date as decades into his racing career he is still undisputedly one of the best drivers on the grid, whether he is going toe to toe with former rivals like Hamilton or the cream of the crop of this new generation, Alonso shows no signs of slowing down any time soon and the sport is all the better for it. Alonso stands out as an anomaly amongst F1 drivers as it’s extremely rare that a driver is able to maintain and extend their prime for as long as he has, this unhuman-like ability that he is demonstrating realistically places him in the conversation of being in contention for another title should he be provided with a championship challenging car.
Following the announcement of Alonso’s return in 2021, it’s fair to say that there was a sizable amount of criticism doubting whether he was deserving of a seat in the highly competitive world of Formula 1 but since his return he has unquestionably silenced all critics with some of the awe-inspiring performances that he’s managed to pull out. From qualifying on the front row in Canada to putting on a defensive masterclass in Hungary, outperforming the car to a point that doesn’t really make sense has essentially become an expectation when it comes to Alonso. Given that Aston Martin are now comfortably the second fastest team on the grid, I don’t think race wins are too far out of reach for Alonso considering what he’s been able to achieve previously in cars that don’t hold a candle to the current Aston Martin. There’s no doubt that this year is set for Redbull domination but we’ve already seen a few chinks in their armour which could open the door for Alonso later on in the season.
With Redbull’s impending penalty, which could impact their development of the RB19, compounded with their reliability issues and the tension between their teammates the latter stages of the season could play out perfectly for Aston Martin and assist them in mounting a considerable title challenge to Redbull in the next few years. Aston Martin will have 37% more wind tunnel time than Redbull this year and with their new facilities on the way, they have the driver, they have the resources now all they need is the car. With Aston Martin building their momentum over the course of this season, they’ll be poised to strike within the next couple of years if they can remain steady on their upward trajectory. The team will also reap the benefits of having a much more clear cut driver pairing, although Stroll’s introduction to the 2023 has been nothing short of impressive I don’t think that anyone is under the impression that he is now miraculously on a level playing field with Alonso when it comes to how far they can push that Aston Martin. Redbull on the other will have an additional dilemma with their pairing of Perez and Verstappen, as whilst they should replicate a similar dynamic to that of Aston Martin, the subtle feeling of uneasiness that is bubbling beneath the surface could explode at any point during the season creating more problems that the team really don’t need.
If Redbull are knocked off of their pedestal the only driver that is in the position to topple to current champions is Fernando Alonso. Alonso is reaping the benefits of making probably the best career move that was on the table at the end of 2022. With Aston Martin’s determination to push themselves even further up the grid, I think there’s a plausible chance the we could see Alonso as a world champion one more time before he eventually decides to close the chapter on Formula 1 for good.