Fernando Alonso whose career at 345 Grand Prix starts, since his debut in 2001, says Formula 1 has not changed and remains too predictable but insists he remains as fast as ever.
While F1 fans gave been treated by fascinating duels albeit very different duels between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen last year, and this year the Red Bull ace is up against a resurgent Ferrari. Races Ferrari should have won they did not, and vice versa as Red Bull also slipped on the reliability side.
Despite this F1’s oldest driver, 40-year-old Alonso is not that impressed, and said of the season at the halfway point: “It’s so-so. Unfortunately, Formula 1 is still very predictable.
“It’s all about Red Bull and Ferrari. Only Max Verstappen, Charles Leclerc, Carlos Sainz and Sergio Perez can win. I don’t know any other sport where it goes like this.”
Apart from his 32 F1 victories and two World Titles (2005 and 2006) Alonso is also a World Endurance Championship (WEC) and a double Le Mans 24-hour winner with Toyota Gazoo Racing; whenever they start a race they tend to always win at endurance level.
Discussing the 2022 season, the second of his comeback, and now ahead of the French Grand Prix next weekend is at the exact halfway mark of 11-races of a 22-round season.
Measured against his 25-year-old teammate Esteban Ocon, the score is 52 points to the Frenchman and and 29 for the veteran Spaniard who summed up: “I’m quite happy with this season.
“We are quite competitive, but we made a few mistakes and had a lot of bad luck, like at the start of the [Austria GP] sprint race. The car is not reliable enough. As a result, we harvested too little. Still, it’s going in the right direction.
“We took a big step at the last race in England due to major updates. Red Bull Racing and Ferrari are still a size too big, but the gap has become a lot smaller. We are still losing ground in slow corners. There are areas for improvement. ”
One of Alonso’s big motivators, last year as he got back into F1 life, was that this year’s all-new cars, the budget cap and other rules introduced would level the playing field. And indeed Verstappen and his main title foe Charles Leclerc have already mesmirised us with some of the their duels.
Racing has been much closer, with battles involving several cars swapping paces with ease; while at the front, already
Fernando’s verdict: “The GPs have become more fun and with these cars you can fight better. Still, I think it’s too boring, but it’s also part of F1. There will always be teams that are faster than others.
“The final phase at Silverstone was sensational, but that was mainly because the safety car collapsed the field. Suddenly I was an eyewitness and I had a view of the leaders, but there was also a downside. Halfway through the race I was sixth in no man’s land. Not very exciting.
I miss the fierce podium duels
“Of course it feels great when I can excel for a while, like in Canada when I started in the front row next to Max. That’s nice about this season. I can show things that people don’t anymore expect of me. That has always been my strength and it makes me proud. It’s what drives me: to be a better driver than in 2021.”
Alonso looks destined to stay in F1 until the end of 2023 at least, and of course he has a plan: “I want us to start designing that car soon. That’s a dilemma. You want to build a new one, but also improve the current one.
“Play chess on two boards. I think we can do that. There is really an opportunity now all teams have to work with the same maximum budget. It’s up to me and Alpine to make it happen.”
While his career is set to end, Carlos Sainz is flying the Spanish flag, finally as a potential winner; Alonso said of his fellow countryman: “A first win like this is important because it takes a load off your shoulders. You always have sky-high expectations, especially when you’re in a Ferrari like Carlos.
“The pressure is unprecedented; I’ve experienced it myself. All of Maranello wants a win from you. And the longer such a victory takes, the harder it gets.” I’m happy for Carlos and knew he had it in him. It was only a matter of time. When you’re in one of the best cars, wins come naturally. Silverstone won’t be Sainz’s last win of 2022.”
You also race against yourself in this sport
The veteran is also looking out for future talent through his various motorsport projects: “I help young racing drivers and have set up karting training because I want to give something back to the sport that has given me so much.
“We have brought Formula 2 driver Clément Novalak to MP. We are considering bringing more guys into F3 and F4. I spend a lot of time with my management helping talents get started.
“They can benefit from my experience and connections and I like that. My whole life revolves around motorsport. It might be the only thing I’m good at…”
Good enough to keep young talent such as Oscar Piastri out of a drive?
Alonso thinks not: “I see that differently. Motorsport revolves around the stopwatch. The key question is: are you still fast enough and can you achieve it?
“If you are slow and perform poorly, then you block the way for up-and-coming talents. Then you have to make way. I’m still fast. It’s other drivers who lock the door to fresh blood,” insisted Alonso.