Mohammed Ben Sulayem, the president of the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), has lifted the lid on some of the fiery conversations he’s had with two-time F1 world champion Fernando Alonso.
In a candid revelation, Ben Sulayem revealed that Alonso often uses explicit language during their phone calls, especially when he’s upset about F1 matters.
The man behind the wheel
Alonso, now 42, is currently the oldest driver on the F1 grid, four years older than even Lewis Hamilton. But the Spaniard’s age hasn’t slowed him down and he remains as competitive as ever. Alonso took a break from F1 before returning to prove that he still has the skill and determination to compete at the highest level of motorsport.
Speaking to Spanish news agency AS, Ben Sulayem praised Alonso for his enduring spirit and exceptional intelligence.
“Fernando is a real example for young drivers,” Ben Sulayem said.
“He’s not only a champion, he’s smart. When he gets angry, he calls me: ‘Boss! President! And he uses some swear words!”
A driver’s frustration
Despite understanding the high-pressure environment of F1, Ben Sulayem doesn’t take Alonso’s heated conversations lightly.
“We are drivers and I understand the frustration of the drivers,” said the FIA president, himself a successful former desert rally driver.
“He’s really good at this sport, he talks, he has good ideas and he brings enormous value to the sport.”
A challenging weekend at the US Grand Prix
Unfortunately, Alonso had plenty to be frustrated about after the recent qualifying session at the United States Grand Prix. Both Aston Martin cars, including Alonso’s, suffered several problems during the first practice session. This severely limited their ability to test and adapt, resulting in disappointing qualifying performances.
Alonso finished in a disappointing P17, while his team-mate Lance Stroll was P19. The result marked a significant drop in form for Alonso, who had qualified for Q3 in all 17 races earlier in the season.
Things didn’t improve for the Sprint race sessions on Saturday. The Sprint Shootout didn’t fair well for Alonso who did manage to improve qualifying to twelfth place, finishing the Saturday Sprint race in thirteenth.
Alonso’s take on the unfortunate turn of events
“We had a terrible session,” said Alonso after Friday qualifying for the Sunday Grand Prix.
“Lance didn’t do any laps, I only did six or seven quality laps with the new package. Too many unknowns with the package and the new car. We went into qualifying a bit blind and this is the result…”
Alonso’s inability to translate his experience into a solid qualifying position at the US Grand Prix exemplifies the rollercoaster of highs and lows that is F1, especially if the car is not set up well or the updates haven’t worked as anticipated.
Certainly, Alonso remains one of the most compelling figures in F1, one who is not afraid to speak his mind, even if that means calling the FIA president to vent his frustrations.
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