Fernando Alonso has indicated he knows he could be targeted as a replacement for Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes when the British driver leaves the team for Ferrari in 2025.
The Aston Martin driver said he had not yet been contacted by Mercedes but insisted that as a double world-champion, his performances and commitment last season made him an attractive proposition to rival teams.
Two weeks ago Hamilton shocked Mercedes by announcing he would be leaving them for Ferrari at the end of this season and opening up a seat alongside George Russell at the eight-time constructors’ championship-winning outfit.
Alonso, who is now 42, won his two titles with Renault in 2004 and 2005 but has failed to repeat the feat since then. He joined Aston Martin last season just as the team made a major step forward in competitiveness. However, his contract with the Silverstone-based team concludes at the end of this season.
Speaking before the launch on Monday morning of the team’s 2024 challenger, the AMR24, he maintained his first loyalty was to Aston Martin but that he was more than aware other teams would be considering looking to take him on.
“If I want to keep racing beyond this year, the first and only talk at the beginning will be Aston Martin. I trust this project and that will be my first priority,” he said. “But if we cannot reach an agreement I know that I am attractive to other teams. I will not stay in Formula One just to have fun. I am not that kind of person and not that kind of driver. Let’s see what the options are.”
Last season, when presented with a car that proved exceptionally quick in the first half of the season and was challenging at the front of the grid, Alonso wasted no time in putting it to use and proved he has lost none of his pace or touch.
He took six podiums in the first eight races and eight in total, finishing the championship in fourth place, his best result since 2013 when he was with Ferrari. With Max Verstappen committed to Red Bull and Hamilton to Ferrari, Alonso noted that he was the only title winner, with enormous experience, potentially available on the driver market for 2025.
“I am aware of my situation which is very unique,” he said. “There are only three world champions on the grid and I am the only one available for 2025, so I am in a good position. On a move to Mercedes, there has been nothing at all. I know the driver market has started earlier this year, but this will not affect me in terms of preparing for the season.”
Alonso also said he had been surprised by Hamilton’s move to Ferrari, given the British driver’s previous statements of his loyalty to Mercedes and intent to end his career with them.
The Spaniard drove for Ferrari between 2010 and 2014 and while challenging closely for the title twice ultimately left disappointed and somewhat disillusioned with the Scuderia. He is more than aware of the huge challenge and pressure Hamilton will face at Ferrari but noted that the seven-time champion could make the difference for the team who already have a quick car as they demonstrated last season, particularly over a single lap.
“Ferrari had a very fast car and were fighting for big things,” he said of their recent performances. “Maybe Lewis can bring that extra to fight for the championship. The car is there.”
“Even last year, with a very dominant Red Bull car, Ferrari were able to match the lap time and be faster than them in most of the qualifying, so the car should be fast enough.”