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Alonso and the Newey-factor that denied him 3 or 4 more F1 titles

Fernando Alonso took a good-humoured dig at Adrian Newey by ‘blaming’ the Red Bull design-guru is responsible for the great Spaniard not winning more Formula 1 world titles, while predicting that Max Verstappen will be a four-time World Champion by season’s end.

F1 Stats show that Alonso might’ve been a five or six-time F1 World Champion had Newey-designed cars not intervened. Thrice, when a Ferrari driver, Fernando finished runner-up to Sebastian Vettel during Red Bull’s first F1  ‘golden era’ a decade or so ago.

Ahead of his home Grand Prix this weekend, Spanish news agency EFE asked Alosno if the 2024 Formula 1 World Championship is reignited in the wake of Ferrari, McLaren and possibly Mercedes closing the gap to Red Bull and their triple F1 World Champion Max Verstappen.

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Alonso replied: “No. This will be Verstappen’s fourth World Championship title. There will be more race winners: McLaren is strong. Ferrari in many races also seems to have the best car… but throughout the 24 races, the ones who are going to make the least mistakes are Verstappen and Red Bull.”

Which led to the subject of the Newey-factor. Asked for his thoughts on the great designer Alonso said: “I like him very much… He is a fierce rival, who has helped all the teams to be better. He made us always look for a better version of ourselves.

“Now that he is free, on the market, logically we would all want, or dream, of having the possibility of working with him. But reading the rumours or the things that are said, it seems that he is close to a deal with Ferrari. So we’ll see. Whatever he decides, he will be welcome.”

Alonso never had the luxury of racing a Newey-designed F1 car

Alonso: Happy I’m driving in a time Newey is building F1 cars

Although Alonso never raced a Newey-designed F1 car, there is admiration: “We have a very respectful relationship. Mutual. He released a book in Spain and gave me the opportunity to write the prologue. I think both of us have said publicly that we admired each other; that we greatly respected each other’s work. But, apart from that, I think little else.”

So would it be fair to say, Newey was Alonso’s greatest rival in two decades of F1, the Spaniard laughed and replied: “For sure, because in the years when I was at Ferrari, Red Bull was the great dominator, with Vettel and with [Mark] Webber. Either of them could win the race.”

Looking back on his distinguished record-setting F1 career, the eye-sore is the fact that Alonso’s last Grand Prix victory of 32 was at his home Spanish Grand Prix back in 2013. A year later he departed Ferrari to join McLaren and has not won since.

Of course, the 42-year-veteran of 387 GP starts fondly recalled that last visit to the top step of the Montmeló podium: “Logically, winning at home is always more special than winning elsewhere. And win 32, in Barcelona, ​​I remember it quite well. It was a race with many stops, with a lot of degradation… then, I was able to take the Spanish flag, on the lap to enter the pits. Yes, it was a very exciting weekend.”

Alonso: I hope the end of the year is strong for us

Fernando Alonso (ESP), Scuderia Ferrari / Formula 1 World Championship 2013 / RD05 / Spanish GP / Barcelona / Circuit de Catalunya / 10.05. - 12.05.2013 / Photo: AF400 photography

A move away from Alpine to Aston Martin proved to be well timed and with a good car early last year, the old Alonso returned to podium form until his team lost their way with their package and have not recovered ever since. At least not the sparkling form of early 2023.

Ahead of his 21st Spanish Grand Prix appearance, without a podium-challenging car, Alonso played down his chances: “We’ll see. It is difficult to assess what can be done, realistically. I guess between P8 and P12, which is our natural position this year.”

Last year after nine rounds Aston Martin were P3 in the standings on 181 points. They arrive in Spain, ahead of Round 10 of the 2024 F1 World Championship with only 58 points, in P5. Can his team turn things around?

Alonso remains optimistic: “I still hope it can happen. There are 24 races and we’ve only raced nine, so things can still happen. I hope the end of the year is strong for us.”