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Alonso: “I have the worst car, but I am at my best”
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Alonso: “I have the worst car, but I am at my best”
Posted By: James Allen  |  31 Oct 2009   |  9:07 am GMT  |  21 comments

I sat down with a few others last night to talk to Fernando Alonso, for the last time as a Renault driver. Fernando has his detractors among the public, especially in Britain, but he is always interesting to talk to and has strong things to say.

Photo: Darren Heath

Photo: Darren Heath


Last night he was on great form, talking about the season past, the disappointment of not being able to fight for the championship, and his prospects of getting to work with Ferrari towards the end of next month, possibly into December.

As he came to the Renault hospitality area in the paddock, four women dressed head to foot in black burkhas were shouting his name from a balcony above the pit building. When he turned to wave at them, they covered their faces. It was a surreal moment, but proof that whatever the cultural differences, people still have the same raw enthusiasm for the sport’s big stars.

Alonso is one of those drivers who doesn’t take well to not winning, like Nigel Mansell or Ayrton Senna. He has trodden water long enough, you can tell that he is itching to get back into the teeth of a championship fight and into the battle with Felipe Massa, which is not going to be straight forward.

Looking back on 2009 he said that he was personally very happy with his performances, because he had totally dominated his team mates, Nelson Piquet and Romain Grosjean,
“Myself, and my performance, I am happy with, ” he said. “Relating to my team-mates all season, I know that people think that I need to beat my team-mate always by rule – but this is not mathematics. F1 is always different and I have been beating them for two years guys who are winning in GP2 and are champions in different categories. It is not that I am beating someone who arrived in F1 by luck. I am happy with my performance and hopefully next year I can prove that I am better than ever now.”

This is certainly true of Lewis Hamilton who, by common consent, has developed a lot as a driver during a tough season with an uncompetitive car. Alonso too has never given up this season, has often hauled the Renault into the final part of qualifying, but with a scant 26 points to show for it.

“We have at the moment one of the worst cars on the grid, or the worst car now, because Toro Rosso is in front of us, and Force India is in front of us, ” said Alonso. “Williams and Toyota are in front of us so with that case, we do whatever we can and we do our maximum all the time. ”

Alonso doesn’t have particularly high hopes for his final outing with Renault,
“I want to finish on a high and for all the people, the mechanics and engineers, I have been there seven years now – so it will be a shame if we do the last race in the middle of the pack, fighting for nothing, and it will be a shame. It will be nice to have some points, but at the moment we are realistic and we are not in that position – so on Saturday we need to find four or five tenths to be in Q3.”

And once the season is over he will transfer his attentions to Ferrari. He has not got a specific start date yet but says that he wants to do the basic things as soon as possible, like seat fittings. Like many drivers he is frustrated by the complete lack of testing between this Sunday and early February. It is a very long winter in prospect,

“No date (to start at Ferrari). For sure, December or before January it will be nice to start doing some things, but very basic things like the seat or the ear plugs – the type of things that take time but are better to do as soon as possible and not wait for February. But nothing really big planned now. At least one test would be nice, because with no testing during the championship plus these long winters, it is not easy for us.”

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21 Comments
  1. Elly says:

    Of course, Alonso needs a good, competitive car to start winning again. Psychologically he’s a real champion and I really do hope that he’ll be able to prove it in Ferrari next season. Fernando is a driver who makes the whole game absolutely exciting and thrilling to look at.

    1. kuilis says:

      Guess what, Elly? Everybody needs a good and competitive car to start winning! He did not even make it to Q2 today with his additional 0.6 sec per lap! Oh! and what happened to his development strength for two years with Renault? And, for sure, he does not make the whole game exciting and thrilling at all!

      1. Insomniac says:

        I just wonder how long can you guys can cry over the spilled milk :(. For the sake of people like you, I hope he comes back to win the title next year; not that I am his fan. Remember,if your brain is at the right spot, mid season testing was banned this year unlike 2007 . And Renault stopped developing R29 long back with Ferrari. Hence, bringing in to what he claimed in 2007 to the development this year is downright pathetic.

  2. Silverstoned says:

    James, just two questions
    - can we assume you are now a fully committed Alonso fan?
    - and, if Alonso is the great car developer and team leader that Ferrari crave, why, after 3 years with Renault, is he now in “the worst car??”

    1. kuilis says:

      I second that!

    2. Billy says:

      such a great point about car developer,

      nice one.

    3. Amritraj says:

      In response to point 2, Renualt stopped the development of the 2009 car in beginning of August, almost 4 months ago. Other teams haven’t taken that approach apart from Ferrari.

      As for Ferrari, they have always had a superior car to Renault throughout the season at least by haf a second.

    4. Brace says:

      it’s 2 years, and both years had completely different set of rules.

      1. Silverstoned says:

        sorry, Brace, it is 2 as you say.

        But shouldn’t take five minutes, don’t you think, to help them move up a little from “very worst on the grid” ?

    5. VicWeir says:

      @2. I don’t think Alonso himself has ever said he’s a ‘great car developer’ or even ‘team leader’. Indeed, he has said that he maybe wasn’t always the fastest driver or the most technically minded. Even Martin Brundle, a lapsed hero-worshipper of Alonso, conceded that was a refreshingly modest statement. Unlike those of certain other people!
      What he has said is that he believes he gets the most possible out of a car. I’ve heard no-one disagree with that. David Coulthard on the BBC said that he has been “carrying” the Renault car for two (by the way) years and it’s my impression that most observers and drivers are fully aware of his gifts in this area.
      As for Renault, I don’t think you lose your team manager, head of engineering and main sponsor in a matter of days without experiencing knock-on problems with the car development.
      I think the whole situation with Renault is very sad and I hope that both Fernando and Renault F1 have much happier times in 2010 and beyond – and I am British!!

  3. Kedar says:

    Interesting thoughts from Fernando.
    James, is he kicking himself for turning down offers from Redbull and Honda (now Brawn) to drive for this season? In either case he would have been fighting for the championship by now?

    1. James Allen says:

      Not really because he didn’t want to be tied in for more than one year with the Ferrari opportunity beckoning

  4. rossetto says:

    To become world champion on a Red Bull or Brawn would have been great, but doing it on a ferrari, it is out of this world.

  5. Ani says:

    how come he set that fastest lap at nurburgring ? … ‘with a bad car’ … his pace during that stint was completely surprising .. even Stefano Domenicalli mentioned it in his post race comments.

  6. El Shish says:

    I had to re-read what Alonso said… things must have gotten really bad if he’s building up the credentials of Piquet Jr. and Grosjean to make his own case for success this season. Take Piquet out of the equation… let’s see how many F1 races Grosjean races after this season… that’s probably a better indicator of what kind of competition Alonso has been up against.

    I admired Fernando’s performance last season but this season he seems to seems to have lost a little dignity. Particularly embarassing was the ‘dream’ he’s apparently always held of driving for Ferrari. Did he really think people had forgotten he’d said exactly the same thing about Mclaren. Not really sure why you never cover these aspects with Alonso? I don’t recall you being particulary shy about highlighting Kimi’s character flaws (the stuff about him not being supportive enough of Badoer, etc).

  7. Amritraj says:

    Hi James, you mention that the fight with Felipe is not goung to be straight forward.

    I have always thought the same that Felipe (along with Schumacher – never mind his warm welcome to Fernando! Completely a PR management stunt, btw.) will play politics and try to swing the balance in his favour behind the scenes.

    How successful do you think Felipe will be his endeavour to able to pull this off? Will Stephano Domeciali and LDM allow for this to happen?

    I’m sure Alonso is aware of this risk, however I am very convinced of the his people skills and think that he would soon be the favourite at Ferrari.

    Kindly share what you feel on this aspect.

    1. James Allen says:

      Will do over the winter, we’ve got three months with no track action, so let’s not exhaust the subjects now!

  8. Patrickl says:

    That Renault wasn’t doing so badly on similar tracks like Valencia and Singapore now was it?

    Alonso might not have been able to get the car to work this time, but that’s largely his fault too.

  9. Neil Barr says:

    Fernando, I’m happy that you’re happy with your achievement of beating your teammates for the last two years. As you proudly point out those are guys who were winning in GP2. If they’re lucky they’ll be back winning in GP2 next year, too, but I doubt it after the drubbing you’ve given them. Not to mention what they’ve given you! And yes, you clearly are improving because three years ago you didn’t beat your teammate who had been winning in GP2.

  10. Carl M says:

    He may have the worst car but you just never know with Alonso. He is 125/1 to win the grand prix. Raikkonen is 80/1 to win the grand prix. I have a pound on each as I’m hoping someone blocks the pit tunnel up. I will be laughing then!

  11. andyF1 says:

    I will say one thing for Alonso and that is that in the latter part of the race when he realised he had no chance of improving his position lap after lap he pestered his race engineer to tell him how much faster he needed to be to get the fastest lap of the race. He was trying to salvage at least something for his team!

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