Fernando Alonso returns to the scene of his 32nd and - as it stands at least - final F1 victory. 

Alonso overtook fellow F1 champions Kimi Raikkonen and Lewis Hamilton around the outside of Turn 3 on the opening lap of the 2013 Spanish Grand Prix before making the most of an aggressive four-stop strategy to secure his second career victory in Barcelona.

In the subsequent seasons to his last win in 2013, Alonso has only stood on the podium on three occasions with a torrid stint with McLaren combined with Alpine’s current underperformance leaving the two-time champion battling in the midfield.

Despite his lack of outright success, Alonso remains one of F1’s most respected and highly-rated talents. 

Even at 40, Alonso is one of the best wheel-to-wheel racers on the grid with his aggressive driving style still making him a fan favourite. 

Given his age and Alpine’s current lack of competitiveness, and their inability to make a jump forward from the midfield into the top three, Alonso would be within his rights to question his future.

However, despite not having a race-winning car, Alonso remains as hungry and committed as ever. 

Alpine have the choice of retaining the Spaniard or promoting highly-rated youngster Oscar Piastri for 2023 but if Alonso wants to continue, then surely it's a no-brainer for the French team.

In an interview with the BBC, Alonso confirmed that he wants to continue in F1 beyond 2022.

“We [with Alpine] didn't talk officially,” Alonso said. "We just had a couple of coffees. But, yeah, I think the possibility will be there. The motivation is still there to win and to close that gap [to the front] even if we know how extremely difficult it is going to be.

“We know there are a couple of things we can do. This first year of the new regulations you learn a lot from other cars and other philosophies, so there are a lot of shortcuts in performance you can find very easily. Next year or the next two years I would love to continue and keep driving because I feel at my best right now and it would be wrong to watch F1 from home and from the living room while I still feel 100% of my abilities.

“When I feel it is not that way, I will be the first to raise my hand and stop because F1 is very demanding; you have to sacrifice a lot of things in life to keep racing. But at the moment it is still worth doing it.”

Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer indicated that discussions would begin at the British Grand Prix in July with the French outfit keen to find Piastri a drive somewhere on the grid.

There has been speculation that Williams could decide to replace Nicholas Latifi, who continues to struggle alongside Alex Albon, midway through the year but no decision has yet been made by the Grove outfit. 

The alternative to Alpine

One rumour that continues to remain is linking Alonso with a move to Aston Martin.

According to F1-Insider, Aston Martin owner Lawrence Stroll is a big admirer of Alonso and he’d be his first choice to replace Sebastian Vettel, should he retire from F1 at the end of the year.

Vettel has often expressed his dissatisfaction about racing in the midfield rather than contending for grand prix victories, leading to the questions about how long the four-time champion has left in F1.

Aston Martin have once again struggled so far this year with their 2022 challenger considerably overweight. 

However, for Alonso, the appeal that Aston Martin would have over Alpine is tricky to understand.

Alonso has an affiliation with Alpine given that they are effectively Renault and are housed at Enstone.

The Spaniard won both of his titles with the Enstone outfit back in 2005 and 2006, before a second spell with the team in 2008 and 2009.

Alpine are also a works outfit while Aston Martin rely on Mercedes for their power unit. 

A change of scenery could be what Alonso wants but a move to Aston Martin for 2023 will likely just be a sidewards step as the Silverstone-based team shows no signs of returning to their Racing Point form of 2020.

20 points behind Ocon

If you looked at the drivers’ championship after five rounds you’d be right to think Alonso was ‘past it’ given that he trails teammate Esteban Ocon by 20 points. 

It’s the complete opposite with the points table not showing the full story.

Not taking anything away from Ocon’s start to the year, the Frenchman has been ultra-consistent, although has lacked Alonso’s outright speed.

Alonso was on for at least sixth at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix before an engine failure ended his day prematurely, while another technical issue robbed him of one of the best qualifying laps of the year as he was on course to claim provisional pole position in Melbourne.

The race didn’t work out for Alonso as the strategy didn’t work out at Albert Park, and then he was on the wrong end of lady luck at Imola when Mick Schumacher damaged his sidepod and forced him out of the race prematurely. 

The good thing for Alonso is that his raw pace and performance seem to be there and regular points finishes are inevitable. 

Will Alonso stay?

Alonso remains hungry to succeed in F1 and while that third drivers’ title will probably continue to allude him, he still remains motivated.

Other than Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari - all of which have their own star drivers - Alonso would be an asset and a great signing for any team.

There’s no doubt Alonso will remain on the grid for 2023 but where?

For Alpine, keeping Alonso makes the most sense. While Piastri is young and exciting, placing him elsewhere to grow and prosper beforehand would be an ideal situation but would it be possible given Williams will be wanting to develop their own driver, not another team’s.

Aston Martin would only be a sideways step but the Silverstone team have a better track record in recent years compared to Alpine, particularly before the rebrand in 2021.

Regardless, don’t expect this weekend to be Alonso’s final home race in F1.