Webber: I would be surprised if Alonso returned

WEBBER Mark and ALONSO Fernando on the starting grid during the 2017 FIA WEC World Endurance Championship, 6 Hours of Bahrain from November 15 to 18 at International Circuit of Sakhir - Photo Florent Gooden / DPPI

Fernando Alonso would be making a mistake in joining a midfield Formula 1 team, says former driver Mark Webber.

Mooted to join Renault in place of the departing Daniel Ricciardo, the links to the team he won two world championships with in 2005 and 2006 are just the latest in the non-stop speculation surrounding Alonso since his last race with McLaren in 2018.

A close friend of Alonso’s during their time in F1 together, Webber was asked by the F1 Nation podcast whether he would be surprised if the Spaniard actually returned this time.

“I would. We know Fernando is extraordinary. He’s had an insane career, but he’s not at his peak anymore, it’ll be harder for him to do what he did in the past.

“A Fernando at 9 out of 10 is clearly still good for someone to have. But Alonso is a serial winner and [being] mid-pack is what he left Formula 1 for.

“He was determined to say that ‘if I can’t fight the podiums then I don’t want to be in Formula 1’, that was the last message we had.

“I don’t see an opportunity for podiums for him in terms of a team that can do that for him.”

And while F1 is set for a regulations overhaul in 2022 that is supposed to bring midfield teams closer to the front-runners, Webber doesn’t see the 38-year-old having enough patience to stick around for a dream that may never become reality.

“We know that he is a racer, he is missing it a lot, but… what’s the focus? Every week we see something else popping up. Where’s the focus on all of this? Is he going to be loyal to a new regime, signing a two-or-three year contract in Formula 1, or is it just for one year? Or you’re four months in and the team is looking for someone else, so what’s the point?”

“I think it it would be very, very challenging for him to stay motivated for two years, in the middle of the field.”