Although he has had a series of reliability problems since the start of the season, Fernando Alonso is not demotivated. On the contrary, the Spaniard seems to be at the top of his game as shown by his second place on the starting grid of the Canadian GP. Nico Rosberg admits that at 40, the two-time world champion is even more impressive than Michael Schumacher at the same age.
After two seasons away from the Formula 1 paddock, Fernando Alonso made his comeback last year. The Spaniard returned to Alpine, the team that had helped him win his two world championship titles (2005 and 2006) when it was running under the Renault name. And inevitably, the doubts surrounding the level of performance of the 39-year-old native of Oviedo have caused a lot of talk.
Nevertheless, Fernando Alonso has not remained inactive during his break from F1. He took part in the Dakar Rally and participated in endurance races. As a result, it didn’t take him long to get back into the swing of things as he had a great 2021 season alongside Esteban Ocon, including a podium finish at the Qatar Grand Prix.
With a full year under his belt, Fernando Alonso has made an excellent start to 2022. The two-time world champion’s performances have not been rewarded with convincing race results, but his speed has not gone unnoticed. In Montreal, he put in a magnificent performance by taking second place on the starting grid. The first time the Spaniard has been on the front row of a Grand Prix was in 2012. He started from pole position in the German GP before winning the race in his Ferrari.
This time around he did not have the same success in the race due to an engine problem. But his Canadian weekend did not go unnoticed as Nico Rosebrg pointed out on Sky Sports’ Any Driven Monday.
“It’s so brilliant what he does with this car. Ocon, for example, is a very good driver but Alonso in Montreal was way ahead in terms of performance over the whole weekend. I’m a big fan of Alonso at the moment. We all know that in terms of talent and skills he is one of the best of all time,” the 2016 world champion said.
For Nico Rosberg, although Fernando Alonso paid for his questionable internal politicking and temper during his career, he is still one of the best drivers in history:
“He sometimes lacked social skills: he often had trouble being in the best teams with the best cars because these teams didn’t really want him anymore because of the liabilities they had with him. That’s certainly one of his weaknesses in his career to get even better results, but in terms of talent, he’s certainly one of the best of all time.”
The Spaniard’s return to racing is all the more impressive given that, as Nico Rosberg reminds, Michael Schumacher also tried to return to F1. Indeed, after three seasons away from the paddocks, the seven-time world champion made his return in 2010 to get the Mercedes project back on track at the age of 41. And at the German team, the Red Baron teamed up with Nico Rosberg who is therefore ideally placed to compare Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso.
“I was Michael Schumacher’s team-mate and at the time he was 41 years old. The speed was there but at times there was a weakness in his ability to adapt quickly to certain situations. Sometimes you could feel the age difference and probably at that age you are past your peak performance, that’s human.
“That Alonso is still able to drive like that is so cool. I was so gutted for him [at the Canadian Grand Prix], I was disappointed watching TV because I wanted him on the podium so badly. I think Alpine also made some small mistakes, it wasn’t just bad luck, with the VSCs they could have gone through the pits,” says the former teammate of Lewis Hamilton.
However, Fernando Alonso’s future is already uncertain as his contract with Alpine expires at the end of the year and Oscar Piastri is pushing hard behind. But for Nico Rosberg, there is no hesitation.
“Fernando Alonso is driving so well that there shouldn’t even be a discussion about him taking anyone’s place. It’s more than deserved for him to be where he is. The way he drives is super spectacular, the fans around the world love it and it’s a great asset to the Alpine team.
“Maybe other people in F1 could make some room for Piastri instead of Alonso…”, concludes the 2016 world champion.