The reason Aston Martin wants Fernando Alonso is not his driving skills. It’s your fame

On the morning of August 1, 2022, news shook the calm of Formula 1. Fernando Alonso’s record for Aston Martin. The Asturian will fill the void left by Sebastian Vettel with his retirement and shows why brands continue to want to be part of a sport that travels against the tide: marketing.

Although since the announcement of his signing by Alpine in July 2021, reference has been made to a long term projectthe truth is that there were doubts that Fernando Alonso would find in his former team a place to live out his last years in Formula 1.

He never made it clear, but the Spaniard must have been as aware as any fan of the sport that getting a car for fight for victories it was a bit of a pipe dream. In fact, they had to fight to hook the fans with “The plan” that, as Alonso himself later confirmed: “part of the plan is not knowing what the plan is. That’s the plan: scaring the shit out of not knowing.”

Closed the doors of the big teams, which consider that having Fernando Alonso in their workforce could generate more tension than real benefits, the double champion only has the mid-table teams. And, among them, only those who can afford to shell out a significant sum for their particular marketing strategy.

If Alpine tried for two years, Aston Martin This will be the next team that will have Alonso in their team. The company is experiencing slow times and has bet everything on Formula 1 to improve its image, sell more cars and make the smooth transition to electric vehicles. And right now it’s on the wrong track.

Fernando Alonso, a risky value

When we look back, look at the statistics and listen to the rest of the drivers, it seems incomprehensible to him that Fernando Alonso only has two Formula 1 drivers’ world championships. And that he won the last one 16 years ago.

Since then his bad decisions and his temper separated him from several world titles. In 2007, McLaren mismanaged the place of the reigning world champion and a promising rookie: Lewis Hamilton. Thus, both drivers lost the championship in favor of Kimi Räikkönen and led to a painful exit from the Spaniard to Renault, where he walked for two years in a desert where the only oasis was a victory which, in addition, put Flavio Briatore out of Formula 1, accused of deliberately run over Nelson Piquet favor Fernando Alonso.

His jump to Ferrari should have been his last. A mythical team which signs one of the most recognized pilots of the moment. The mystic decided to go to Maranello and everything would have been perfect if Red Bull, who had also been interested in signing him, hadn’t objected. In four years, two world titles that eluded him after battling with an inferior car (especially in 2012). Another painful exit at McLaren.

Since then, Fernando Alonso has not returned to fight for the crown. Honda’s entry into Formula 1 was a big flop and Spanish was allowed until match your category favorite with Indy Car (in the Indianapolis 500) and the World Endurance Championship (with victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans) to gain the status of “total driver” that Formula 1 refused him.

With his time at McLaren, Fernando Alonso showed that a last world title in Formula 1 was almost excluded. While the truly competitive teams closed their doors to him, his departure from the sport and his particular time in the Dakar Rally showed two things: Fernando Alonso wants to continue competing (even if it’s just for fun) and the brands are looking for something something more than a great pilot in him.

The return to Alpine F1 Team had a lot to do with it, as well as his move to Aston Martin. During the pre-season test, Jesús Presa, director of communication, public affairs and social impact of Grupo Renault, confirmed that the value of Alonso goes far beyond his ability to win a race. “For us, it’s priceless appearing for two minutes on TVE news to have Fernando Alonso in the squad,” he assured us.

Aston Martin, the need to reinvent itself

That Alpine and Aston Martin have chosen to have Fernando Alonso in their ranks is no coincidence. His 2021 incorporation into the F1 team came after a deep remodeling of the sports model business within the Renault Group.

The restructuring led by Luca de Meo left aside the history of Renault’s sports division in favor of alpine revival, its new flag in this area. The objective was the same as in 2003: raise awareness of a brand during off-peak hours in new markets to develop their sales.

Esteban Ocon’s win at the Hungarian Grand Prix last year, where Fernando Alonso played a key role in stopping Lewis Hamilton’s comeback, boosted the company’s sales by 70% in the days following followed. In the first decade of the 2000s, Renault’s results in Formula 1 enabled it to penetrate an Asian market which until then had resisted them.

Now Aston Martin finds itself in a similar situation. Its market value is losing its strength by leaps and bounds. In May, his net debt It was from €1.12 billion and, since its IPO in 2018, its shares have lost 90% of their value.

The legendary sports company is going through a bad patch. His SUV, the Aston Martin DBXit sells well, but doesn’t seem to be enough, and its entry into the electric car market is proving more complicated than expected. In its time, it was decided to opt for maximum exclusivity on the path to electrification with the Aston Martin Vantage and Valkyrie, with its first purely electric car not expected until 2026.

During this time, his entry into Formula 1 She has been closely linked to Lawrence Stroll and his son Lance Stroll. In 2020, Lawrence bought the 16.7% from Aston Martin investing £182 million (€216 million) and broadening their voices on the board with a further injection of £318 million (€378 million).

Then, Racing Point, where the little Stroll obviously drove, received the name and colors of Aston Martin. During these two previous seasons, the company tried with Sebastian Vettel the same maneuver that it will use with Fernando Alonso: to have one of the drivers with the best track record in the history of Formula 1 and to improve its image.

So far, the move hasn’t gone well for the brand. The business continues lose money and his safety car appearance was also not effective. Indeed, the brand has received many reviews from pilots to be too slow.

The arrival of Fernando Alonso therefore appears to be another desperate move to improve the company’s image. Even though the Spaniard hasn’t won a title since 2006 and his last Grand Prix victory dates back to 2013, he still has aura and raises expectations of a driver who should have a more substantial record. The picture of Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel dismissing him from Formula 1 in 2018 on the basis of “doughnuts” is just one more example.

For better or for worse, the figure of Fernando Alonso goes a lot beyond your image as a Formula 1 driver. His temper has closed doors on him but he will also always have a place in Formula 1 history and for some reason his signing at Aston Martin has already sparked more expectations than that of Sebastian Vettel, always more sober in his career.

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