Fernando Alonso in the headlines as the year draws to a close
Scuderia Ferrari
Posted By: James Allen  |  21 Dec 2011   |  7:33 am GMT  |  109 comments

Fernando Alonso has been in the news a couple of times this week, first for his bullish statements about Ferrari’s competitiveness in 2012 and then again yesterday with the sad confirmation that his marriage has ended.

The Spaniard, now 30 years old, met his wife Raquel de Rosario in late 2005 and married a year later, just after he clinched his second world title.

Apparently the pair have been separated for some months, they were last seen together at a Grand Prix in Hungary in late July, where Alonso celebrated his 30th birthday.

The private life of F1 drivers has been very much a talking point this season with Lewis Hamilton very publicly splitting with girlfriend Nicole Scherzinger and then in Brazil wearing a necklace she gave him following a reconciliation.

Alonso, in contrast, has kept his personal difficulties behind closed doors and there is no sign that it affected his performances in 2011, in fact towards the end of the season he put in some of his most impressive ‘fighting’ drives.

Meanwhile the Spaniard has been talking up Ferrari’s chances for next season, saying that Red Bull have little room for development of their car, whereas Ferrari has got on top of its windtunnel problems and is able to improve by more than its Austrian rival.

“I think we are going to go up,” he said in a Santander press conference. “We had aerodynamic problems when the windtunnel wasn’t working well. We had a different philosophy to adapt to the Pirellis, a different philosophy for the suspension and many other things. So we have a big margin to improve.

“So I think they (Red Bull) will improve by X per cent, and we are going to improve by X times two, so it’s all going to be much closer.”

Alonso has spent a fair bit of time at Maranello lately and is clearly very focussed on hitting the ground running in 2012. Both of his world titles were won thanks to a great start to the season and in recent years it has been vital to start well – only 2010 stands out as the exception, where Vettel lost ground before winning at the last race.


The pressure is on Ferrari technical director Pat Fry and his team to give the team a big step forward. It is a time for strong leadership and clear thinking. And with everyone looking for the new ‘trick’ on the technical side that others will be forced to copy, all eyes will be on Ferrari who have not set the agenda on the design side since the days of Rory Byrne in the mid 2000s.

Alonso has proved time and again that if you give him the car, he will get the job done. And after five seasons without adding the third title he so desperately wants to equal his idol Ayrton Senna, he is as hungry as any driver out there at the moment.

Alonso also welcomed the return to F1 of Kimi Raikkonen. Ironically the last time the pair raced each other Alonso was with the Enstone based Renault team and Raikkonen was at Ferrari. In 2012 the roles will be reversed.

“I welcome him back because he’s a great driver,” Alonso said “He is one of the most talented drivers out there as well as being a World Champion and a nice person, so it will be a pleasure to have him back.

“There is something different about starting a race with Kimi alongside you, rather than any other young driver. Fighting with people like him gives you a greater sense of security.”

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1

I think Alonso should date the pussycat doll..

Then we’d see some dynamite…

2

Kudos to Alonso for keeping his marital troubles out of the picture and off the track. I’m sure the demands on his time and the constant being away from home were contributors. It is always seems a bit of a gamble when an atheletes’ significant other is in the entertainment business. Its always tough to go through a divorce though, its worse than having a spouse die. I wish him well and hope he has a great 2012 season.

3

JAMES:

It´s centuries since i last posted here, but I still follow the best web there is on f1 anywhere -only people know too much for my limited knowledge of f1 cars, so I didn´t want to embarrass myself.

Question: in the spanish media, byrne is being talked as having a huge impact in next year´s Ferrari (specially El País). but anywhere else I look, there´s no comments on it whatsoever, as far as anyone´s concerned, Byrne is a very happy retiree… what´s your take on this?

4

I’m not sure, I’m looking into it now. He did a brilliant job when he was running the show and he’s kept in touch but it doesn’t always work to come back and take over. I’m not sure that’s what’s happening here. Pat Fry is in charge, but I’ll find out.

5

I don’t find any rage in red anymore… for me black is beautiful 🙂

VIVA KIMI 🙂

6

Alonso is finished, F1 is all about the kids now: next year we’ll have a 25 year old 3 time WDC. Alonso was exciting when he was the underdog at 24 and 25 at Renault beating old rich man Schumacher. Now he’s rich, old, slow and boring… it’s the same story always with F1, the successful drivers get too rich and comfortable and don’t push the edge like they used too. P.S any idea James which commentary feed One HD will run in 2012, BBC or Sky??

7

Are you sure you’re following F1?

Did you not read the appraisals Alonso received from fans, especially those who don’t like him.

8

I understand what you’re saying – and profoundly hope you’re wrong.

But, “slow & boring”! Compared to whom? His team mate, in the same car? I don’t think so. In last year’s Ferrari name me a driver who would have been faster and less ‘boring’, whatever you mean by that.

No-one, not even Vettel, who, I agree, had a fantastic season in a fantastic car.

9

As much as I hated Alonso after 2007 until last year Hockenheim. I must say that I have found a lot of respect for Alonso as of late. He handles himself in a very respectful manner and what he did with this years Ferrari is absolutely amazing. This year is the very first year I actually rooted for a red car with a prancing horse on the nose cone.

10

I had no idea he was even married!

11

I’d say Alonso will be a fair contender for scoring 20 out of 20 in 2012. And I’m not talking about podiums.

Bahrain and Dubai could be tough though.

12

When many people criticized Hamilton during the year one driver in particular came to his defence, his arch rival Fernando Alonso.

That was an extremely nice gesture from a man who has been robed of a potential world championship due to the competition he faced from Hamilton in 2007.

Now that we know that Fernando’s private life too was not going too well it makes it easier to understand why he came to Lewis’ defence. Full mark to Fernando who proved, if further prof was needed, he is not just a great driver but a great human being full of compassion. Bravo Fernando you are a top guy! I am sure Lewis would agree with me.

13

Does this partly explain the thawing between Lewis and Fernando – they both understood that an attention grabbing woman can be a disruptive influence and toy with both their emotions?

Lewis’ 2012 season is all about remembering that he is a sportsman and forgetting womenfolk for a year+ …

14

Nice to see some drivers keep their private lives private and still show up at the track 100% focused on their job. I wasn’t even sure if Alonso was married or not.

I did know Senna was his idol. I think its a great pity for McLaren and Alonso, that they couldn’t work together. They should have won several championships together. Alonso has a great record in F1, but really think he should have a couple WDC’s.

15

A couple more perhaps?

WDC 2005 and 2006 with Renault already.

16

Sympathies to both Fernando and Raquel – it’s never nice when a relationship ends, particularly when it is a marriage as well. As others have said, full credit to him for keeping his head down and driving as he has done this season (I will happily admit I had no idea his marriage was even in trouble, much less ending), and it does give an insight into how he values his privacy that it’s only come to light now. Hopefully things will look up for him in 2012, both on and off the track.

17

hamilton and alonso are better of without the leaches. Now they can focus 100% on winning the next crown.

18

There are a lot of rumors concerning Rory Byrne’s involvement with Ferrari’s new F1 car. Even Domenicali didn’t deny it in a recent video interview. Just how much involved is a mystery. The man is a genius to equal Newey, for Tifosi’s sake he is very much involved.

Sad about Alonso’s divorce, but I’m impressed with the way they kept it private and civil. It didn’t affect Fernando’s performance one bit, the guy is a true champion.

19

Well I’m not a Lewis fan by any means but it’s difficult to compare him to Alonso in this situation. Hamilton didn’t just have a break up. He lost two good friends in during the year, was estranged from his dad, was being beaten by his supposedly inferior teammate and dealing with a lot more media focus than Alonso ever has.

But I think Alonso is a different character and lots of very different personalities makes f1 great drama. Forget the identi-kit media groomed money backed no makes – let’s see kimi, Alonso, hamilton, schumi, button, vettel and webber in action in good cars. It’s almost worth getting sky for!

20

Very professionally handled with no fanfare about his relationship.

Would really be great if Alonso, Hamilton, Vettel, Schumi, Kimi, Button and Webber be within one to three tenths and fight for the WDC in 2012. I’d like to be idealistic as a fan. Who knows.

21

Me too. I don’t really care at all about these ppls personal trials and tribulations.

We all have them, though I’m sure they have more sycophantic hangers-on to deal with than I do!

22

I am really sad to hear this.

My F1 hero is going through tough times in his life.

Marriage is an wonderful thing in life. It really hurts when you separate.

I hope Fernando finds a better girl than her.

23

I had a filling yesterday (teeth are a big deal for werewolves).

I share this only because I am sure it will interest everyone about as much as racing drivers’ romantic lives interest me! So, here’s to Alonso for not making another soap story out of 2012.

24

I only just watched the new Senna documentary movie, and it got me thinking about just how much Alonso reminds me of Senna. I started watching F1 in the post-Senna era and so didn’t know much about him and his personality, but seeing clips of him on and off the track and around the paddock, I could see a lot of similarities in their personalities. It’s a shame things didn’t work out at McLaren – maybe towards the end of Alonso’s career we will see him back there. Alonso is a great champion, I hope he wins some more WDC’s in the near future.

25

alonso and senna?!! you mean alonso and prost. Hamilton in a way reminded me of senna, the 2007 lewis, not the 2011.

To tell you the truth, nobody gets to his level now. Focused, fast, good in the rain, in the dry. The best on a flyier. Good on a interview.

He could be so candid with a fellow driver, but if you didn’t act as he expected you to, you are written of. Steward interview was owesome.

26

Focused, fast, good in the rain, in the dry, sounds like Vettel to me.

28

People compare Alsono and lewis in their recent splits have their points. However, I feel Alonso’s marriage has been really low key and priavte (at least in the English world), while Lewis’s romance with Pussycat has been very public. Consider Lewis’s management with Simon Fuller, and Nicole’s working with X-factor with another mighty Simon, it was a bit too much really.

29

James it appears that Alonso is a very private person in the same light as Schumacher was during his first career. Does Alonso have a protective bubble around him to stop stories coming out and does he go to the same lengths as Schumacher in protecting his family from the media spotlight?

To be completely honest i had no idea he was even married in the first place.

30

The way he performed over the course of the year despite the marital problem is testament of his talent, professionalism and mental strength. Commendable indeed.

31

Great to hear you will be back with rusty and the boys next year James.

I’m a massive McLaren fan ( as my surname is McLaren) but its news like this that makes you realise Lewis Hamiltons deficiencies as a driver (albeit few). Alonso is obviously made of far sterner stuff and Lewis needs to disciple his mind to achieve. There are only three drivers in the paddock that can drive a car beyond its capabilities, the two afore mentioned and Henki (possibly vettel too judging by webers relative performance this year). If Lewis can structure his life and management properly he could be one of the greats. As vettel said this year ‘you don’t bring your girlfriend to work with you’.

32

I would say Alonso is just older and more experienced. I would hope 2011 would help Hamilton learn and be tougher emotionally too.

33

In hindsight i probably should have used the word temperament. Alonso has it in spades which is why at the same age he had two WDC to lewis’s one. Hamilton had those amazing years 2007-2008 where his enthusiasm and focus allowed his talent to shine. Considering his net worth is estimated to be 200 million (http://www.celebritynetworth.com/richest-athletes/lewis-hamilton-net-worth/) and he is a seasoned pro now he has probably lost some focus. The Renault Alonso won his two WDC was the second most capable package, similar to McLaren’s car this year. So Lewis has no excuses in my view. Still Lewis is a smart man and 2012 could be his year. I cant wait for March!!

34

Alonso’s always been a favorite of mine.

He handled his personal situation with a lot more dignity than Hamilton this year. The British press still give him a rough ride though. Even Brundle, who I admire, has the occasional dig.

I’m not so hopeful about the ’12 car – really hope I’m wrong.

If the Ferrari is even within with a tenth or two though he’ll be a contender.

35

Agreecompletely …love brundle but have noticed the digs at times. Alonso has always being the best driver on the grid in my book. If Ferrari get their act together he’l be right up there.

36

I agree it shows a certain mental strength that Alonso stayed so focussed this year despite his personal problems. But remember the time he threw his toys out of the pram at McLaren – to his great detriment – was at an age roughly that Hamilton is at now.

I’m no fan of Hamilton as such, but would hope he learns from the experience as Alonso has done.

All that aside, much respect to Alonso as a driver, he is in my view about the best there is and has been for a while. The past few years have shown him WCs don’t come handed on a plate, something Vettel will have to learn at some point. A few barren years puts everything in perspective and will make a third title more sweet.

There’s a long list of drivers who have to wait for a WC, be it their first, second or third, just ask Schumi, Ham, Alonso, Hakkinen, Mansell and Hill to name just a few.

37

I’m not entirely sure Alonso’s time at McLaren can be compared one-on-one so to speak with personal turmoil.

Problems in ones private life are just that, but in 2007 Alonso’s problems were at work. So it would seem entirely suitable for any tantrums to occur at work too.

In other words, Alonso could be very good at separating private life from work life. It doesn’t mean he handles his private issues any better than Hamilton.

Lastly, none of what I wrote is meant as a judgement of how either of them handled themselves in 2007 or 2011. I don’t think “throwing toys out of the pram” is accurate for Alonso in 2007, nor is “emotional meltdown” for Hamilton this past year. They had problems and dealt with them as fit them and their personalities. And both still had strong seasons even in their “off” years.

38

Ral, fair comment about private vs. working lives and the relative differences that Alonso and Hamilton have faced. But these are human beings we are talking about and it makes sense that both private lives and work can and will influence the other.

The point I was trying to make is that both drivers have been tested for emotional/mental strength at a similar age, albeit for different reasons. At root I think a big element is that as successful sports-people they are/were not used to the idea of losing in any area of their life.

It takes time to accept you can’t have everything you want and it takes time to understand that to win long-term means you have to play the long game and take the ups and downs along the way.

It’s part of growing up in a sense and if Alonso’s performance is anything to go by we should see Hamilton coming back stronger in the coming years. But as I say, these guys are human beings and there are no givens.

Totally agree their ‘off’ seasons are way better than anything I and many others could manage!!

39

It is quite moving to know this about Alonso the man, I had no idea.. Like seeing him in a new light, it is impressive how he can endure and remain ever-stoic and professional, despite what must be a sad and traumatic time, topped with all the pressure of being a Ferrari driver.

Like Schumacher, he prefers his private life to be just that. I am amazed how professional these guys can be, not shirking obligations and responsibilities when their personal lives are in turmoil.

I know a marriage break-up is not the same as a death in the family, but I am reminded of Imola 2003 when Schumacher’s mother died; both he and Ralf were at her bedside the day before the race, and she died the next morning. They chose to race, and Michael won; the podium for which was an unforgettably sombre moment, for his 65th victory and Ferrari’s 160th.

Alonso’s mettle has always impressed me; in his career he’s had a few years of wringing performance out of sub-par cars and still delivered results, knowing he has little chance of the championship, yet still doing the best he can – sometimes above and beyond what is normally possible. Reminiscent of Schumacher’s early years at Ferrari, he sees the possibility of a brighter future ahead.

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