Fernando Alonso is not entering the second phase of his Formula 1 quietly, having said in a recent interview that Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes will be World Champions, yet again, in 2021.
In the same interview, he took a swipe at his former teammate Hamilton by suggesting that without a dominant car he would not have been the power he has become, and cites George Russell as an example.
Famously the Williams driver was called on to substitute for the COVID-19-struck Mercedes driver, and at the Sakhir Grand Prix the young Briton startled and stunned everyone with excellent pace and a near win.
Which Alonso uses it as an example to explain the absurdity of the sport at the highest level, “The Russell case is striking in that it explains what F1 is today. In five days, not one-hundred days, he went from last to first. All without a divine touch, without meditating in Tibet or that shit.
“It was enough for him to get into a Mercedes. Thus, evaluating drivers is complicated. Of course, if we think about who Hamilton’s or Bottas’ see in their rearview mirrors we find Verstappen; Leclerc is an exceptional talent but to really measure him it takes a few years.”
As for Hamilton’s relentless dominance, the Spaniard said, “There is no domination if there is not a winning car. When you conquer a series of titles it means that you have a decisive technical superiority.
“It happened to Hamilton, it happened to Vettel that with Red Bull, he triumphed with a good car and then he was no longer able to win. The same happened to me with Renault in 2005 and 2006,” he conceded.
Alonso spent five years at Ferrari, fruitless in terms of world titles, as did Sebastian Vettel who was brought into the team as a four-time F1 world champion with the goal of emulating the great Michael Schumacher era. But that flopped too. No titles for the younger German.
“Arriving as a world champion would have increased the pressure and then, after five years, it became clear that Seb couldn’t be the saviour they expected and concluded that Leclerc has more potential. Sainz must have seemed like the right driver to accompany Charles.
“Ferrari moves in a different dimension from any other team. There is the Sports Management, the company, the politics, a lot of people involved in the decisions. Other teams remain in F1 for 10 or 15 years and then they go.
“Ferrari can’t afford it. We didn’t win, of course, but we came close to the World Championship twice fighting until the last race, I say this because nobody remembers second places. In 2017 and 2018 it happened. same with Vettel. The truth is that in the last seven years only one team has won.”
Indeed, it was Alonso who broke Michael Schumacher’s run of five F1 world titles in a row at the turn of the century, needless to say, the respect remains for his rival, “I was driving a Renault that’s was faster than the Ferrari and he was always there, fighting, attacking.
“He was able to do incredible things. I’m talking about a legend. We can argue whether he was one or not. Barrichello was his teammate as Bottas is now Hamilton’s teammate. But legends are also built in this way and it is right that they are remembered as such.
“Now Mick [Schumacher] is on track and he has a wonderful effect which I enjoy very much, we met here and there: a golden boy. We will see the rest, but that he races in F1 is excellent news for all of us.”
And finally, he delved on the inevitable perils of being a racing driver, including his own miraculous survival on more than one occasion, “These are moments in which you are reminded what your profession is and what risks you run. Sometimes you need a shock, a wake-up call.
“It happened with Grosjean in Bahrain. Jules Bianchi died in F1 and Antoine Hubert in F2. We often forget how cruel this sport can be,” lamented the 39-year-old Alpine F1 driver.