As Formula 1 jets into the land of the samurai for the Japanese Grand Prix, Fernando Alonso opened up on his fascination with the country’s fabled warriors, likening them to racing drivers.
Alonso’s tales of inspiration garnered from the samurai are well-known. Furthermore, for many years he has had a tattoo (pictured above) stretching from the back of his neck to the middle of his back.
In an interview with crypto.com, made possible by Aston Martin, Alonso opened up on the allure of the samurai ethos that inspires him, as well as the definition of bravery and his constant desire to win.
“I think a racing driver and a samurai are very linked. Discipline, self-confidence, no fear. We fight for only one goal, which is to win,” began Alonso.
Before elaborating on the ethos of being a samurai, “Even dying, was a privilege, it was not a fear. As a racing driver, in any lap, in any moment, in any corner, there is danger. You have to be prepared for anything that may happen.
“You have to train. You have to be ready. Samurai harnessed that same spirit, using that discipline to become a better version of themselves. Whether it’s a race or a battle, that discipline is key to being more prepared than you were the day before,” ventured the Spaniard.
Fernando: Bravery is not just doing crazy things
The discussion broached the subject of bravery required to race at the highest level, Alonso continued: “It’s not just thinking that you go beyond the limit. Bravery is when you go into battle and there is not even one per cent of your head that thinks you will fail.
“You use that hunger and that competitive feeling that you have inside to really attack harder than before. It is the only way to find what is inside you and what will drive you to the best version of yourself.”
Alonso also shed light on his attitude to failure and over-thinking: “Those thoughts are never helpful. They limit your ability to perform and be the best version of yourself, so I try to cancel them out. Doing this is a kind of bravery – having the mental strength to distance yourself from any thoughts of failure,” explained the 42-year-old.
Ahead of his 372nd Grand Prix start, in Japan, this weekend, Alonso is the oldest driver on the grid. In Singapore last Sunday he overtook the 100,000km Grand Prix race laps he has completed during his career in F1.
Invariably he was asked about his remarkable longevity, to which he replied: “I never thought I would be in Formula 1 that long because I never felt like I was part of the circus: all the glamour, all the show, everything else that goes on at the circuit beyond the racing.
“But, if a younger version of me could see me driving at the highest level in Formula 1 at the age of 42, he would not be surprised because, even back then, I knew how much I loved racing. And racing in Formula 1 is the thing I like to do most. It’s the best category in the world. It’s the pinnacle of motorsport.”
Despite the slew of great podium finishes. Great because of the manner in which he celebrates and really savours them like seldom before but alas, so far no victory #33 as yet. Will it come? When will it come?
Alsonso revealed: “Every race that I start. Even if we are not strong enough to fight for the win, there is one per cent of me that when I close the visor and there is the green light, I still hope that that is the day that I will win.
“99 per cent of the time you fail, but the one time that you succeed is worth the wait and is worth all the work that you put in. The desire to win is always there. I had that from day one and I still have the same level right now.”
“I will not stop soon,” declared the F1 living legend who last won a Grand Prix a decade ago, when he triumphed for Ferrari at his home 2013 Spanish Grand Prix, painting Barcelona Red in the process. His next win could see the city hardware stores run out of Green paint! No matter where it happens!
Who are the samurai?
A samurai was a member of the military nobility in feudal Japan. The term “samurai” is often associated with the historical period of Japan from roughly the 12th century to the 19th century. Known for its strict code of ethics and conduct, known as Bushido, which emphasized principles such as loyalty, honour, self-discipline, and courage.