Alonso: I need to destroy whatever strengths other people have

Fernando Alonso’s blowing open of the Formula 1 driver market this summer has its roots in the ability he continues to show on track. 

Alonso: I need to destroy whatever strengths other people have
Listen to this article

Despite, at 41, being the oldest driver on the grid, he has proved throughout 2022 that he remains at the top of his abilities – adding the benefits of experience to the raw natural talent that he has carried through his career. 

One aspect that has been especially fascinating this year has been observing the attention to detail that the Alpine driver has when it comes to finding every competitive advantage he can. 

At the Austrian Grand Prix, for example, he famously spent time clearing his grid slot during Saturday’s morning free practice session – hoping his actions would give him a better start later on (unluckily it didn’t as his car failed to start before the sprint). 

But that’s not the only time he has gone the extra mile to eke out an edge. 

If you watched him carefully during the laps to the grid before the French Grand Prix, Alonso was alone in driving very slowly down the pit lane exit. 

That lack of speed gave him the ability to turn near sharp left at the end to then clear the track and get some rubber down on the inside to Turn 1, and then the outside of Turn 2. 

His mindset was that he had every intention of passing people at those locations off the start while others thought the circuit would be too dirty there.  

And that is exactly what happened, as he pulled off a brilliant getaway and sliced past both Lando Norris and George Russell on the bits of track he had cleaned minutes before. 

Alonso confesses to taking great pleasure from these little moments being noticed, as he says it is all part of the strong competitive streak he has – in both exploiting his strengths but hoping to open up weaknesses in others. 

“Yeah, I mean, I'm that type of guy,” he smiles in an exclusive interview with Motorsport.com that took place before his Aston Martin move was announced. 

“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.  

“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. 

“Playing with professionals, the ball arrives very strong for them so they are used to that kind of shot.  

“But when 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 maximize mine.”  

Fernando Alonso, Alpine A522, Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin AMR22

Fernando Alonso, Alpine A522, Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin AMR22

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Alonso is clear in his head that experience in F1 has brought with it clear advantages, which allows him to have a better overall judgement on which areas he needs to focus on. 

“I think experience for sure helps in many ways,” he said. “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. 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.” 

Read Also:

Alonso does not feel age has led to any negatives, especially after a two-year break from F1 that allowed him to recharge his batteries.  

“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,” he said. 

“Maybe in 2018, I felt that I was exhausted mentally by all the marketing and traveling 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.” 

Above all else, Alonso thinks that he is a much better version of himself in his F1 comeback than he was when his first spell in the sport came to an end. 

He thinks that sitting on the sidelines for a bit also helped him better understand the bigger picture of F1: and he has brought those positives with him. 

“I think 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,” he said. 

“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. 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.” 

Based on what happened on and off track this year, Alonso has never looked more in control of things in F1 than he does right now. 

shares
comments

Related video

Top 10 Brabham drivers ranked: Piquet, Lauda, Gurney and more
Previous article

Top 10 Brabham drivers ranked: Piquet, Lauda, Gurney and more

Next article

Verstappen: No quick solution to extremely heavy F1 cars

Verstappen: No quick solution to extremely heavy F1 cars
The relaxed home life that helps F1’s Kevin Magnussen to deliver Prime

The relaxed home life that helps F1’s Kevin Magnussen to deliver

The unrelenting grasp of the tax man prompts most racing drivers to move to the likes of Monaco, Switzerland or Dubai. But, as Oleg Karpov found out, Kevin Magnussen is quite happy where he is, thank you very much – at home, with his family, in Denmark

Formula 1
Oct 5, 2022
How Perez has shown what many F1 drivers need from the 2022 season run-in Prime

How Perez has shown what many F1 drivers need from the 2022 season run-in

OPINION: Sergio Perez’s Singapore triumph arrested a big decline in his Formula 1 performances against Max Verstappen at Red Bull since his Monaco win. He now needs to maintain his form to the season’s end, while others are also seeking a change in fortunes.

Formula 1
Oct 5, 2022
How the FIA should punish any breaches of the F1 cost cap Prime

How the FIA should punish any breaches of the F1 cost cap

OPINION: On Wednesday, the FIA will issue F1 teams with compliance certificates if they stuck to the 2021 budget cap. But amid rumours of overspending, the governing body must set a critical precedent. It needs to carefully pick between revisiting the bitterness of Abu Dhabi, a contradictory punishment and ensuring parity for the rest of the ground-effect era

Formula 1
Oct 4, 2022
Singapore Grand Prix Driver Ratings 2022 Prime

Singapore Grand Prix Driver Ratings 2022

A testing return to the Singapore Grand Prix in tricky conditions created plenty of hazards and mistakes for the Formula 1 drivers to fall into. That partly explains a number of low scores, including from a handful of high profile runners, allowing others to take a starring role under the floodlights

Formula 1
Oct 3, 2022
The two key contributors to Leclerc's defeat to Perez in Singapore Prime

The two key contributors to Leclerc's defeat to Perez in Singapore

In a marathon Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix, Sergio Perez’s victory was only assured hours after the race due to a stewards investigation. Throughout the contest the Red Bull driver impressively held off Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc in changing conditions to see the Mexican pull out enough of an advantage to negate his post-race penalty

Formula 1
Oct 3, 2022
Why is Oscar Piastri F1's most sought-after rookie? Prime

Why is Oscar Piastri F1's most sought-after rookie?

The Australian rising star is fast, consistent, confident, adaptable and has shown excellent racecraft, but there’s already a taint to his reputation. That hasn’t stopped him becoming the hottest property in this year’s F1 driver market and why McLaren moved fast to snap up the 21-year-old

Formula 1
Sep 30, 2022
The unintended benefit that F1's new engine rules era will deliver Prime

The unintended benefit that F1's new engine rules era will deliver

Formula 1's incoming engine rules shake-up has multiple targets. But it may also solve what has been a bone of contention since the hybrids arrived in 2014. The new plan will allow the series to pump up the volume

Formula 1
Sep 29, 2022
How de Vries made himself impossible to ignore for a belated F1 chance Prime

How de Vries made himself impossible to ignore for a belated F1 chance

Nyck de Vries appeared to have missed his opportunity to break into Formula 1 as he was passed over for more exciting talents who have now become frontrunners and title fighters. But after catching the eye outside of the F1 sphere, before his stunning impromptu grand prix debut in Italy, will it lead to a delayed full-time race seat?

Formula 1
Sep 29, 2022