An interesting theory has emerged regarding Toto Wolff’s decision to sign off Fernando Alonso’s return to the Mercedes engine family. Alonso will leave Alpine for Aston Martin in 2023, and there are now suggestions that Wolff could already be preparing for Lewis Hamilton’s retirement.
Aston Martin join McLaren and Williams as part of the Mercedes family, while other teams on the grid use Red Bull or Ferrari engines. Alonso’s impending switch will be the first time Mercedes have powered him since his initial McLaren departure in 2007.
And Sky Sports F1 reporter Ted Kravitz believes that because Wolff gave the green light for Alonso’s move, the Mercedes boss could be testing the water in case George Russell needs a world champion teammate in the upcoming years. “What it also does do is reunite Fernando with the Mercedes engine family, which I think is an interesting angle,” he explained.
“Fernando hasn’t been powered by Mercedes since he left McLaren the first time round under a bit of a cloud 15 years ago. So, this would have needed a sign-off from Toto Wolff, which it obviously got. Is it ridiculous to think that Mercedes wanted Fernando back in their family just to see what he was like?
“Should Lewis decide he was to leave for whatever reason, and they need a world champion to put alongside George, would it not be the end of the world if Mercedes had a bit of visibility in what Fernando was like, even as a 41-year-old? You might have thought that was unlikely, but as this announcement proves – anything is possible in F1!”
Aston Martin have made their intentions to challenge for titles in the near future clear, but the team are enduring a tough season and are only ahead of Williams in the 2022 Constructors’ Championship. Kravitz has described Alonso’s decision to switch Alpine for Aston Martin as ‘all a bit odd’. He added: “It’s fairly standard Fernando Alonso career behaviour that he is betting on a marked improvement in the next three years!
“That is, though, the other thing I find slightly perplexing about the whole thing, that at best, it’s going to take three years for Aston Martin to be able to win races and challenge for championships. By which point, Fernando will be 44. He’s fit as a fiddle, and he’s as into F1 as he ever was, his break refreshed him, and he’s not running out of steam like Sebastian Vettel has. But, really?”