fernando alonso getty

Alonso: I need to kill whatever strengths other people have

fernando alonso getty

Fernando Alonso pulled the trigger that launched the Silly Season when his move from Alpine to Aston Martin was confirmed, news that stunned the Formula 1 world.

While others are likely to benefit from Alonso’s departure from the French team, then Renault, that took him to his only two F1 titles – 2005 and 2006 – and what many thought would be his final hurrah with the team that handed him a comeback ticket after his two your sabbatical from F1.

This year Alonso is arguably better than he has been for several years, feisty, up for a fight and still displaying incredible speed.

While Esteban Ocon in the sister car, leads the Alonso in the championship ahead of Round 14 in Belgium later this month, the score 58 points to 41. Yet it’s Alonso who invariably steals the headlines.

Hence while a surprise he is moving top Lawrence Stroll’s Aston Martin, be sure the deal was conducted between the pair for it to be as secret as it was; clearly the Canadian billionaire, who says farewell to Sebastian Vettel and welcomes the Spaniard to his seat in the team alongside son Lance.

Which is a surprise move as Stroll junior struggles to be better than Vettel, way down on his best with retirement looming, while Alonso keeps on trying to prove he is better than he ever was and getting better.

Nevertheless, interesting times lie ahead for the Greens, because in an interview with Motorsport Network before he announced his move, Alonso’s modus operandi might have rung warning bells but clearly did not.

Alonso said: “I need to make 100% of my thing, and I need to kill whatever strengths other people have. But this I do in everything I practice, when I play anything.”

He did a fine job at dismantling the career of highly rated Stoffel Vandoorn, the Belgian too naive to go up against the wily Spaniard, who explained the source of his manic competitiveness: “I used to play tennis, and when I play with someone good, I would put the ball very high.

“Because, like this, you stop the rhythm of them because they are used to hitting the ball very hard and playing against professionals, the ball arrives very strong for them so they are used to that kind of shot.

“But if you put the ball high, they make mistakes, because the ball arrives very soft. So I can play better tennis when putting the ball high.

“Putting the ball high is my only chance to beat them. So I do that automatically. It’s not only on racing – I just need to destroy the strengths of the others, and try to maximise mine.”

Alonso: Experience for sure helps in many ways


Which, again, bodes for interesting times at Team Stroll aka Aston Martin as Alonso at 41, does not figure on retiring anytime soon. Perhaps he is inspired by F1’s first World Champion Giuseppi Farina who did the business at 44 years of age.

And, of course, Juan Manuel Fangio who won four F1 titles, the first when he was 40 years old, the second at 43 and the last at 45.

One could argue that times were different, seasons were seven or eight races, but at the same time it can be said the cars were brutes to drive, the races much longer and drivers raced every weekend, just about, northern hemisphere in summer and southern hemisphere in winter.

But comparisons are futile, in the here and now Alonso is fast enough and good enough to be a major player in F1, despite his age, his 346 Grand Prix starts are a sure factor; only Kimi Raikkonen with 250 starts has more.

That record should be broken when the #14 Alpine lines up on the grid for the Singapore Grand Prix on 2 October, the milestone a reminder of what Alonso’s prize asset is: “Experience for sure helps in many ways.

“Start; awareness of things, tyre management, pitstops, the way you approach the mechanics. Also, the way you approach the weekend: free practice, the importance of it, the non-importance of it, sometimes.

“When you’re young, you pay so much attention to every lap you do; even FP1 is like the final lap of the championship. So I think you understand these things.

“A lot of improvement has been done in wet conditions and damp conditions. Normally wet races are a long shot, you know, things are changing very quickly, there are a lot safety cars, a lot of dry lines that will appear later on. So there are more opportunities.”

Not every lap is the last lap

alonso crash melbourne 2022 australian gp f1 qualifying

Alonso admits he has learnt: “These kinds of things I used to make mistakes, early in the races that now I try to avoid. And this only comes with experience and with your own mistakes.”

Alonso’s break from F1 was a fruitful period in his career, winning Le Mans twice and the WEC title amid his adventures.

He returned recharged for F1,  a lot more mature, far less intense and not lacking in speed nor on track chutzpah; but when asked if could recall any bad times, Alonso replied: “In terms of the downsides, it’s difficult to say anything because I don’t feel that I’m missing anything that I had when I was younger.

“Maybe in 2018, I felt that I was exhausted mentally by all the marketing and travelling and things like that. And I needed those two years out. Now I feel okay. So I don’t know if it is just those two years that helped me out. Or it’s just a different approach that I have now.”

He shed insight into that approach he has now: “Watching races from the outside, you don’t understand sometimes different things and different behaviours of the race, looking from the outside and looking at 360 degrees.

“It’s not only your own cockpit and your own strategy, so maybe I have a better understanding of how the race develops. And also the different categories that I drove: I think they teach me different things.

There are different philosophies of racing, different driving techniques

Alonso: Silverstone is a classic real racer’s track

Alonso elaborated on the difference between sportscars and other disciplines, to driving F1: It’s not that they are applicable to an F1 car, but when you lose the car, you have an oversteer, maybe my hands and my feet are doing something that I didn’t know before, because I was just driving F1 cars.

“So in a way, I feel more in control of things now,” revealed Alonso, who has yet to speak on the record about his move to Aston Martin.

However, Stroll’s team under Mike Krack is under no illusions about what is heading their way: “Fernando just has that killer instinct. No matter what, you know that will always give you everything: always push 100 per cent, always extract the maximum from the car and the team.

His racecraft is exceptional – a formidable combination of confidence, instinct and intelligence and signing him is a clear statement of our intent at Aston Martin F1. We are not on the grid to make up the numbers. We are here to win.

“We are on a journey to the front of the grid and Fernando’s decision to join us on that journey – to have a driver of his calibre believe in the Aston Martin F1 project – is a great compliment to our team and the work we are doing.