[adinserter block="13"]

Fernando Alonso proving age is just a number in Formula 1

Fernando Alonso might be the oldest driver on the grid in Formula 1 but he's still one of the best

-

Ah yes that old saying ‘age is just a number’ which many sportspeople are showing is the case thanks to improved technology and science, plus changes in professionalism and the dedication that’s required to be an elite athlete.

When Fernando Alonso returned to Formula 1, many people questioned the announcement but he is proving his doubters wrong, very wrong.

Alonso is behind Alpine teammate Esteban Ocon in the F1 driver standings which isn’t reflective of his season because the Spaniard has been the better driver in 2022.

Is Alonso too old for F1?

Alonso will be 41 years old in July but he’s certainly showed no signs of slowing down since returning to F1 in 2021.

Although Ocon has scored 14 more points than Alonso in the 31 Grand Prix they have been teammates together, the latter has been very impressive against a driver who is rated highly.

Alonso needed time to get back into the flow and rhythm of life as an F1 driver but since last year’s Azerbaijan GP, he has shown that sheer grit and tenacity which made him such a force to be reckoned with during his Ferrari and Renault days.

His skill and wiliness to fend off Lewis Hamilton lap after lap despite being in a significantly slower car, on older tyres, was magnificent, underlining there is plenty of life in him.

It ultimately proved critical for Ocon, who was able to resist the pressure of Sebastian Vettel to win his maiden F1 race, a result the Frenchman owes as much to Alonso.

More consistent points scoring and a podium at the 2021 Qatar GP, Alonso‘s first since 2014, rounded off a fine comeback year for twice Le Mans 24 Hours winner.

Alonso is still quick

On paper, being quick is the best way to measure how good an F1 driver is. But, pure pace and outright speed has never been one of Alonso’s best strengths during his 19 seasons in F1.

Qualifying has generally been perceived to be a weakness of Alonso, although this may be slightly skewed by some of the old qualifying rules when drivers qualified with their race fuel prior to 2010.

However, he’s 6-3 up in the qualifying head to head versus Ocon after nine rounds, which includes a magnificent front row start at the Canadian GP in wet conditions.

Max Verstappen enjoyed lining up alongside Alonso and stated he is still a very fast F1 driver.

“To be on the front row together with Fernando, [who] I used to look at F1 as a little kid, seeing Fernando being up there and winning his races and championships and putting it on pole so to be sharing the front row is a nice thing,” Verstappen told the press.

“Of course Fernando is getting a little bit old, but he’s still very fast.”

Is Alonso easy to work with in F1?

There’s a myth that Alonso can be a challenging person to deal with in F1 which may have been the case at McLaren-Honda in 2015 to 2017, but there aren’t too many other examples where engineers or bosses have called out the now Alpine driver.

The recent Canadian GP saw a frustrated Alonso on the team radio, but you have to remember he had an engine which was clipping on the straights, because the ERS wasn’t functioning properly, and the safety car didn’t play into his hands. All this after so much promise from qualifying.

Alonso has felt hard done by with penalties in the past and had been vocal about inconsistency from the stewards, a lot of which has actually been true.

Alpine’s Fernando Alonso in action during the 2022 Canadian Grand Prix REUTERS/Christinne Muschi

Take track limits on the opening lap for example. Many drivers went wide at Turn 1 at the 2021 Austrian GP on Lap 1, made up positions and were not penalised.

This annoyed Alonso, who has generally been a very clean racing driver and only changed his canny racecraft to become more aggressive to make a point to the stewards who let other drivers get away with it.

You could make an argument that when things get difficult, Alonso isn’t the best driver to have in your team. Don’t be fooled that other drivers don’t share the same feelings, they just hide it a little better.

Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer, who joined the French squad at the start of 2022, says Alonso has been easy to work.

“He sees life just like I see life,” Szafnauer told the F1 Nation podcast. “It’s all about performance – leave no stone unturned, you’ve got to do everything you can to get the next bit of performance on the car and do a good job on track.

“I think his motivation and techniques are maybe a little bit different than mine. But he’s got less people to motivate than I do and he’s brilliant.”

When will Alonso retire from F1?

Alonso doesn’t have age on his side and it’s difficult to see him joining another team, especially a top constructor like Red Bull or Ferrari. It’s highly likely he will finish his F1 career at Alpine.

He might be approximately twice as old as the likes of Charles Leclerc, Lando Norris, George Russell, Carlos Sainz and Verstappen, but he’s still among the top drivers and can match any of them on his day.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen with second placed Alpine’s Fernando Alonso after finishing in pole position for the 2022 Canadian Grand PrixPool via REUTERS/Jim Watson

A third world title is unlikely, but there’s no reason why Alonso can’t keep on fighting with F1‘s young guns.

“I think that at least two or three years you will see me here [in F1],” Alonso told DAZN in May. “I won’t drive forever.

“I still have a lot to offer. Right now I am enjoying Formula 1 a lot. I enjoy racing, I am enjoying all the things because Formula 1 is not only the activity on the track, you have a lot of activities off the track and I also enjoy them.

“I have never felt that it was a disadvantage to be a little older, I carry with me more experience and more knowledge.”

Nigel Chiu
Nigel Chiuhttps://total-motorsport.com/author/nigel-chiu/
Nigel Chiu is an NCTJ-qualified journalist who worked at Total-Motorsport for 18 months until May 2023. He has been following F1 since 2007 and hasn’t missed a Grand Prix weekend since. Nigel’s worked with several motorsport websites, plus Eurosport and subsequently went on to work with Sky Sports F1 where he travels to multiple F1 races each season.
- Advertisment -

LATEST NEWS

Josef Newgarden drinks his milk after winning the 2024 Indy 500 | Penske Entertainment: James Black

2024 Indy 500 Race Results

0
Josef Newgarden joined an elite group of drivers by winning the Indy 500 for the second consecutive year in...
Josef Newgarden celebrates winning the 2024 Indy 500 | Penske Entertainment: Amber Pietz

Newgarden takes sensational Indy 500 win after epic battle for glory

0
The Indianapolis 500 never fails to excite and even a four-hour rain delay couldn't dampen the drama for IndyCar's...
Tom Blomqvist crashes in Lap 1 at the 2024 Indy 500 | Penske Entertainment: Aaron Skillman

2024 Indy 500: Results and Highlights as Newgarden wins

0
Welcome to this Total Motorsport live blog for the 2024 Indy 500, is among the most prestigious motorsport events...
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner locks horns with Mercedes' opposite number Toto Wolff ahead of the 2023 Miami GP | Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Christian Horner turns on old enemy Mercedes after Red Bull’s dire Monaco GP

0
Christian Horner flamed Mercedes once again after the 2024 Monaco Grand Prix, accusing them of a 'defeatist, hugely conservative...
Charles Leclerc after winning the 2024 Monaco GP | Scuderia Ferrari Press Office

Charles Leclerc reveals moment he almost lost the 2024 Monaco GP

0
Charles Leclerc revealed he almost lost the 2024 Monaco Grand Prix when he began to cry in the cockpit...
Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff before 2022 Azerbaijan Grand Prix practice REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed

Mercedes issue warning to rivals for next race after success in Monaco

0
Toto Wolff and Lewis Hamilton have sent strong warnings to their Formula 1 rivals after Mercedes produced a strong...
Sergio Perez ahead of the 2024 Monaco Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Frustrated Sergio Perez points finger at Haas after ‘totally unnecessary’ tangle

0
A desolate Sergio Perez admitted his first-lap 2024 Monaco Grand Prix crash with Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg was...
Oscar Piastri and Lando Norris in the pit lane at the 2024 Monaco GP | McLaren F1 Team

Lando Norris hails McLaren’s march of progress

0
Lando Norris has no hang ups about being beaten by Ferrari at the 2024 Monaco Grand Prix as the...

Pierre Gasly reacts to Esteban Ocon apology with Alpine star to face ‘consequences’

0
Pierre Gasly accused his Alpine colleague Esteban Ocon of disrespecting team orders after their collision at the Formula 1...
George Russell of Mercedes leads. Max Verstappen at the start of the 2024 Monaco Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

F1 Monaco Grand Prix 2024 – Highlights and Reaction

0
Welcome to this Total-Motorsport.com F1 live blog for the 2024 Monaco Grand Prix, coming to you from the paddock at Monte...
- Advertisment -