De la Rosa: ‘Beast’ Alonso will destroy Sainz at McLaren

Talk of an all Spanish driver line-up for McLaren has been doing the rounds in the Formula 1 paddock for some time now, but one Spaniard who thinks this is a bad idea is Pedro de la Rosa who knows both drivers very well.

The prospect of Carlos Sainz teaming up with Fernando Alonso may sound great on paper, but according to De la Rosa, the younger of the two Spaniards will come out the worse for wear as the veteran he is up against is traditionally merciless against his teammates.

Currently, Stoffel Vandoorne is being comprehensively outperformed by Alonso in the sister McLaren, the score 12-0 in qualifying alone – the Belgian’s future uncertain already at this point of his second season with the Woking outfit.

Asked about the Alonso-Sainz ‘dream team’ during an interview on Cadena SER, De la Rosa replied, “A dream? I think it would be better if they were not together. Being Fernando’s teammate is very difficult, so I prefer that some other driver suffers, not Carlos.

“Fernando is an old dog, the best driver in the history of Formula 1. So I would prefer that Carlos accumulate two or three more years of experience in the sport and then face a beast like Fernando.”

De la Rosa and Alonso are more than colleagues, they are mates. The pair worked closely together during their spell at Ferrari, so few are better placed to analyse a scenario in which the two Spaniards share a pit garage.

“When I say Fernando is the best, people tell me that I am his friend,” added 47-year-old De la Rosa. “But I have worked with some of the best and Fernando has something special.”

Silly Season chatter is that Renault are keen to secure the services of young Frenchman Esteban Ocon to partner Nico Hulkenberg at the team next year, which would mean Sainz would have to find work elsewhere.

But De la Rosa believes that Sainz has done enough to guarantee himself a place on the grid, “If Renault makes the mistake of letting Carlos escape, we must not go crazy because he has earned a place in Formula 1.”

Regarding young drivers, De la Rosa is impressed with Sauber rookie Charles Leclerc, “He is the new jewel and I hope they give him a chance at Ferrari in 2019.”

As for the current championship battle, De la Rosa observed, “Mercedes is winning when Ferrari should be doing so, the great drama for them and [Sebastian] Vettel is that they have the best car but are still 24 points behind.

“There is still a long way to go and I think everything will be decided only at the last race,” predicted De la Rosa who made 104 grand prix starts, driving for Arrows, Jaguar, McLaren, Sauber and HRT during that period.