Weekend Q&A F1 summer break – James Allen answers readers questions Pt 4
Posted By: James Allen  |  19 Aug 2017   |  9:18 am GMT  |  99 comments

Thanks for the fantastic response to this series of Q&A sessions with James Allen during F1’s enforced summer shutdown.

Today James tackles readers’ burning questions about the maximum number of races F1 can stage in a season, Kimi Raikkonen’s role at Ferrari, F1 driver fitness, new F1 teams and possible driver moves for 2019.

Max Verstappen
Uday Motwani: “Hi James. How would you predict the 2019 grid when it comes to Ricciardo, Verstappen, Perez and Ocon?
Wow, crystal ball time! So many different factors at play here involving bigger names currently higher up the grid that need to move their chess pieces for some of these guys to get an opening.

One of Ricciardo and Verstappen will still be at Red Bull in 2019. Not being privvy to the length of contract for each it’s hard to say when the opportunity to move may come. Red Bull may have the fastest car in 2018, but the engine remains the issue as it is out of their control. One would expect the Renault to be close to the Mercedes and Ferrari next season, so that may be the team to beat. Ferrari are more interested in Verstappen than Mercedes, in my perception.

Perez, well it’s now or never. He’s a much more complete driver now than when he was at McLaren. He is still trying to get over that year in terms of his stock in F1, but everyone can see how consistently he is driving this year. Then again he’s getting his collar felt by a 20 year old rookie, Ocon. If he doesn’t get a Renault seat for 2018 then he may have missed his chance.

Ocon belongs to Mercedes and you can see a strong Mercedes presence in the Force India garage and offices around him. He’s their boy and he will stay at Force India until the main Mercedes team is ready to take him. That could be 2019 depending on who they have lined up as their star driver then. Ocon’s roadblock is Bottas.

C: “If the calendar were to be expanded, then what is the maximum number of Grand Prix you believe that the teams could logistically/physically manage per season?”
Good question, C and one I have discussed with many F1 team managers and sporting directors. They say that over 21 you have to start rotating staff as it’s too much travel and work for the existing staff structures. For mechanics it is very physical and they have problems retaining staff already as it is. Young lads come in for two or three years and then leave to do something else having ticked ‘F1 mechanic’ off their bucket list, as it’s really hard work.

Engineers get very tired too, but they are harder to rotate for continuity reasons.

But if it were made clear that from 2020 onwards there was going to be 25 races, then teams have a couple of years to restructure the way they operate and they could accommodate that. Remember there are only 40 hours of F1 racing action as it is, so F1 does need to create more opportunities, albeit many fans would struggle to follow 25 races a season.

Vettel, Raikkonen
Dave: “Hi James, I’m curious about the Ferrari situation regarding Raikkonen. Is it written into his contract that he’s no 2? At Hungary, was he unable to pass Vettel or did he not try?
Surely a more ruthless driver (like Alonso) would have overruled the teams decision to call him in a lap after Vettel and took matters in his own hands and won the race?
Whilst I understand Ferrari’s strategy of pulling fully behind Vettel, it’s a little frustrating, as a fan of the sport, to watch a multi millionaire, seemingly content to cruise around and finish second, keeping young talent out of the sport.

It is not written in his contract that he is number 2. Rather it is written that both drivers have to accept the instructions of the team from time to time when necessary. Raikkonen knows the ropes at Ferrari and he doesn’t make a fuss about things. As he’s a world champion and a tough guy, people don’t question him like they did with Irvine, Massa or Barrichello in that role.

But at the end of the day Ferrari is after the drivers’ championship as a primary goal and history shows you that they do what they think is necessary to achieve that sometimes. Hungary was a really strong example as Vettel had a problem and Raikkonen was hooked up that weekend and would have easily won the race if he’d been allowed a strategy to get ahead.

Kimi Raikkonen

But he was able to say that it was his fault as he made a mistake in qualifying that gave Vettel the grid advantage so it wasn’t his weekend. I understand that it’s frustrating as a fan, but it’s another layer of complexity and intrigue in the F1 story and as for keeping a young driver out of the seat, Ferrari is very conservative when it comes to that and only once in recent years has had a young driver (Massa) who was there to understudy and take over from the master (Schumacher). That didn’t work out ultimately as he couldn’t match Alonso when he got there and slipped back to number 2.

If Ferrari puts Leclerc in there for 2019 one hopes it would be on the basis of understudy to take over the top role as he looks to be in that class, based on what we are seeing in F2 this year. But you can only really judge that once he’s in F1 against the best of the best.

Michael Quinn: “Should F1 do whatever it takes to get 2-3 new teams on the grid? Customer cars for five years? Seems we are missing out on some talented drivers not getting a spot. I worry we are heading down a path where its 3-4 manufacturer teams up front, with their “second” team making up the rest, and not much variety for anything else.”

No I don’t think it should, Michael. When the FIA under Max Mosley tried to do that in 2010 it was a failure. Caterham, Marussia (Manor) and HRT (remember them?) came and went contributing very little to the F1 story or the show. Their collapse left hundreds out of work, some lives went off track and so on. I think that 10 teams seems to be accepted as the right number, especially if we are going to have to move them around the world more with an expanded calendar.

Yes it’s a shame that the young drivers struggle to find a berth, but that is more about shaping up the junior categories so the one or two who really deserve to graduate to F1 are able to make that move. If Ross Brawn can get hold of cost control in F1 then drivers who come up will be the elite, rather than those with cash. There’s a lot of work to be done..

Marko: “1) All current drivers are physical very well prepared, but in your opinion, who is the fittest driver on the grid and can you compare him for example with Michael Schumacher in his best days? 2) Today, drivers are feeling more G-force in the corners, especially this year, but was it harder to drive an F1 car 25-30 years ago when there was no power steering?”
Love the handle! It’s very hard to say today as we never get to see them compared in a physical assessment and they all do broadly the same training; over half of them are looked after by Hintsa Performance under Dr Luke Bennett. I haven’t asked Luke how they stack up physically today compared to the Schumacher era, but I would say they had to be fitter back then as F1 was a series of sprints between refuelling stops in a lighter car with higher G forces.

Yes I think it was harder in the sense of physical strength before power steering and if you remember even Senna needed quite a bit of work to get the strength to drive F1 and struggled with it to start with.

Julio C: “You said on one of your responses “we now have new leaders, new thinking and a once in a generation chance to get it back on track with well considered rules, fairly applied. Let’s hope they take that chance.”
What are the chances that big teams are going to allow these changes? I’ve got in mind what Toto Wolff said: “I don’t want to be on Chase Carey’s shoes”…?”

The next two years will be absolutely fascinating, Julio. I can already see little skirmishes on the fringes as Mercedes and Ferrari test the ground and resolve of the new management and Red Bull and Christian Horner especially were very aligned with Bernie Ecclestone, so they are wary of the new management.

I suspect that all three teams will still be in F1 in 2021 because Carey and Liberty CEO Greg Maffei are numbers guys and top level operators and they will find a way to keep their star names in the sport. If you look at how Liberty finance their acquisitions they are always very complex and there will be a magic formula that allows the top teams to have their status reflected while at the same time giving the midfield a chance to survive and make money from F1.

It looks almost as complex as negotiating Brexit, because you also have all these other layers involved like the rules, the budget controls and so on, all wrapped up in the one discussion.

But at the end of the day, F1 is an unrivalled platform in terms of reach and the new things Liberty has been doing have increased that reach on a social media level. They have a challenge on the TV reach as they seek to balance Pay TV revenue with free to air reach, however.

Fernando Alonso
Hello: “James, in equal cars, pit crew,…etc. If you had to, which driver would your bet the house and life savings on to winning a championship against the other drivers?
Maybe an answer for the current generation and an answer for all the drivers since the start of F1.”

Ha! Fun question to end on. I notice you say a championship rather than just a race. That makes it much harder as there are so many variables to winning a championship. Prost would have to feature and historically Fangio didn’t miss too often, but I wasn’t there so I don’t know what F1 was like in the 1950s.

Of the current generation, you’d have to say Alonso would probably top the list as he is relentless and very consistent. He almost won a couple of championships against Red Bull and Vettel despite not having as fast a car.

Thanks for all your questions and comments, hope you have enjoyed this mini-series and we may look to do this again later in the year.

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Great little feature James and quite insightful. I was interested in the question regarding there fitness levels, surely the drivers from just the 90’s era will be way fitter than those of today, the cars were so physical I’m sure at some point during the season it was Alonso who said you needed a rub down every time you got out of the car. I have to admit that’s how I would like to see F1 with cars that were a beast and races that were all out sprints between Pitt stops, seeing the very best going for it. I don’t think we have genuinely seen that since Schumacher and Alonso had that great battle in 2006 and all the tension that came with it, I feel like there’s been something missing since then though that’s not to say we haven’t had some fantastic races since.


Great questions this time.

1. My prediction for the 2019 grid would be:

Ferrari: Verstappen and Grosjean
Mercedes: Bottas and Ocon (Hamilton having retired with five championships)
Red Bull: Vettel and Gasly
McLaren: Ricciardo and Vandoorne
Renault: Hullkenberg and Sainz
Williams: Stroll and Perez

Couple of big punts in there, but for the major players that’s where my money would be. But not much of it.

2. Speaking to friends in the biz, 20 races is probably the sensible maximum as it gets pretty ragged beyond that.

3. Ferrari gonna Ferrari

4. I think the sport would benefit from another team or two and I think it was a great shame that Manor folded, having proven themselves the only one of the three new entrants capable of being there. I don’t think Liberty/the FIA should do much more than tweak the balance of payments to make it a bit more sustainable, though. F1 is an elite sport and you don’t improve it by letting also-rans in.

5. It would be really interesting to fitness-test all the drivers and compare their fitness regimes side-by-side. Some drivers, like Schumacher, Button and Webber, made a real big thing of their fitness, but others like Hamilton and Vettel don’t outwardly do as much. Physically, Vettel looks far less intensively conditioned than a lot of the others, but his capabilities must be roughly equal or he wouldn’t be able to drive the car so competitively. I suspect they’re all a much of a muchness, with some drivers having to put more in than others to maintain the necessary levels of fitness purely because of their particular biology.

6. Liberty know what they’re doing and I expect they’re capable of reaching a solution that leaves more of the stakeholders happier than they are today, whilst increasing the value and sustainability of the sport. Few sports are as politically fractious as F1, though, so they’ll need to bring their A game.

7. I’d say there are two factors in this. The biggest is simply which driver is capable of extracting the maximum out of his package at each different circuit across the calendar. Naturally you’d look towards Hamilton and Alonso for that. Maybe Ricciardo and potentially Max.

The second factor is who orchestrates the team around him best, who pays attention to every little thing and exploits it to tip the balance in his favour bit by minuscule bit. Schumacher was the king of that, followed by Prost and Vettel is the heir apparent of the current grid.

My gut feeling is it would be a three way fight between Hamilton, Alonso and Vettel. Max would win races, but might not be consistent enough to contest the Championship. I’d lean towards Alonso on the grounds that although he doesn’t quite possess Hamilton’s ultimate speed, he doesn’t seem to have bogey circuits and bad weekends to the extent that Lewis does.


James, the tobacco industry withdrew from the sport at the end of 2006 (except PMI). How much longer do you think PMI will stick around in the sport, and how much influence do they still have on F1, Ferrari, other sponsors and FOM etc.?


Hi James, not sure if there will be a part 5 or not, but I was hoping to ask about the current reliability regulations and components that are carried-over race-to-race.

What degradation has been observed for power units on their second (or more) race?

I only ask because sometimes I look at team-mate comparisons and am not totally convinced we are seeing like for like, and it could be dependent on the power unit cycle…



Hi JAonF1 team
I am loving this little Q and A series.
If you are planning to do another I have a question for you.
Q. If all the teams presented one car each, in a plain white livery with zero sponsors stickers or identifing logos/marks, how many cars do you think you could identify? Also what would be the features you would be looking for to identify each car.


My Bet would be Max, Ricciardo, Vettel, Lewis, in that order.


Lewis on his first year was instantly faster than Alonso with all his experience. Fot me that says it all if you are not able to handle a rookie. I would bet on Max, Ricciardio, Vettel, in that order.


“Instantly faster”, I don’t think so, in the first race (Australia) Alonso out qualified Hamilton. The second race (Malaysia) Alonso won the race. Not very “instant” I would say. At the end of season both had scored 109 points, so not even overall “faster”. The fact is 2007 can be spun in any direction, but due to the politics at McLaren during that year nothing meaningful can really be drawn from it.


Being faster does not always show up in the final points. You should know that. Hamilton out-qualified and outperformed Alonso in 2007, AS A ROOKIE. If you can point me to another rookie to do that alongside the reigning champion, I’d like to see it.


Hi James
Thank you very much for your interesting and detailed response to my question.
Only one thing: Brexit no please…!!!
Ha ha ha!
THANK YOU VERY MUCH for ALL the interaction with fans.


oh my god poor people working for F1 getting so tired, I can take any of those jobs 🙂

pleaaaaaaaaaase!!!!! do you have something open? here we all work in Chinese factories, no problem with hard 24/7/365 schedules, lol.


Surprised to hear it is hard to retain mechanics. If I had a job in F1 they would have to drag me out.


Take it from someone who has worked with race teams in multiple disciplines, it’s not so bad if you don’t have a family or friends. But if you do have a family, especially kids, it’s extremely painful to be away from them for so long and so often. When you do get home for a day or two here or there all you want to do is sleep and relax. Forget about going out and heaven forbid taking a holiday that involves flying, you’ll never want to see another airport again. My week in V8 Supercars used to start on a Wednesday at around 5 am with supervising the loading of the 2 cars, spare and equipment into the transporter. Thursday was travelling to the circuit starting at 3 am. Thursday night unloading and setting up the pit facilities till around 1 am. Friday start at 5 am with car checks, practise sessions and finish around 9 pm after engineering, car set up, data analysis and driver briefings. Dinner at around 10 pm where we would run through qualifying tactics and car set up. Saturday similar, start at 5 am and finish around 8 pm, then dinner and race strategy and set up. Sunday, race day, sleep in till 6 am (whoopy) then warm up, race 1 and race 2 punctuated by car repairs and set up changes. Race finish 6 pm then supervise the pack up to the cars spars and equipment. If lucky dinner around 10 pm and grab some sleep. Early morning flight back to the workshop, so maybe up around 4 am (depending on location). Monday afternoon and/or night debrief with the workshop based engineers on what we found over the race weekend, changes, upgrades, etc. That’s ~100 hours of high stress work in 6 days. Tuesday was a day off, except for the longer travelling distance races where the Wednesday work had to be done on the Tuesday.

Hi James, a lead into another article for you, perhaps “a week in the life of an F1 mechanic”. Maybe not long enough, possibly a month would be more revealing to those outside the circle who think life in F1 is all glamour and champagne.


Wow. Didn’t realise the amount of work. As watchers we only get to see the finished results




Absolute rubbish about keeping it to ten teams.So teams come and go but I would love another Jordan or Ligier or Minardi etc etc to have a go and would add something new and refreshing than watching a dull merc domination driven by a brat dominating for year after year


@ Scott…I too would like to see at least three more teams on track but i would only do so if they were to be competitive teams. I am sick of the same old same old dominating the season. I want to see three more well financed and technically advanced teams enter the championship and to throw down the gauntlet to the likes of Ferrari and Mercedes. This will only happen when we move away from the over -complexity of these current PU’s. The need for independent engine builders has never been greater. F1 is controlled by two teams and we are the poorer for it in terms of competition. I also happen to think that the necessity of fielding two cars is a barrier for many. Considering the costs why make this demand a condition of entry. I would tend to think that new teams could be enticed if they were given the option of running just one car. Makes an awful lot of sense to me.


“Remember there are only 40 hours of F1 racing action as it is”

James, it’s the second time you’ve said this in these fascinating Q&A sessions, and I wonder a bit why you think it’s important. If I could watch the weekend on free-to-air, as one could back in the day, that would be ample, when you take into account the build-up, the practice, the qualy and all the rest. I think much more would “kill the goose”. You’ve got to keep the races special, not just another race, like 20/20 and ODI’s have become in cricket.

If fans need more on-track action, why not broadcast the F2 and F3 races too ? I was at Silverstone this year – first time for a while I’ve been able to go – and I found them very interesting – all 4 of them. As part of a series over a season, they would be riveting.


Fantastic series and really great to read. Personally I would love it if this could become a much more regular feature rather than just “some time later in the year”. Of course it all depends on if you have the time but a monthly or even weekly Q&A would be awesome.


Interesting and enjoyable series of articles James.
Keep up the good work
As a suggestion I would like to see more “behind the scenes” stuff. Not just interviews, because they often come across as towing the company line, but tech issues and interesting tit bits like what all the buttons do on the steering wheel and how they differ from team to team.


James, I thoroughly enjoyed this personal discussion from you to us!
As a F1 fan since the late 60’s, my “hero” growing up was Jackie Stewart. At that time, coverage was limited in the US, with ABC “Wide World of Sports” doing their part to show Monaco and other highlights. I looked forward to Road & Track each month to find out details (which the writers gave beautiful, long reports and photos) of each race. I couldn’t get enough, as there wasn’t the clutter of other championships and the overload of sports in general.
What made it so special? A F1 World Champion (and team) traveled to places all around the world. A truly “global” endeavor, similar to the Olympics gathering of athletes. Whereas each race, each driver, each car was a proving ground for the best organized, bravest, meanest, and balls-out fastest. A win, was a gold medal. The best amongst all the competitors. It was the ultimate in motor racing. (Lemans and Indy were up there too…)
When you consider the extra hard work involved to accomplish this. It was like NASA in the early days. Going places never before gone to. Pushing the envelope. But it took teamwork.

It was not being like anything else.

And the above point – “not like being anything else”, should be the path F1 takes in the future. It needs to bring “awe” to everyone involved. True grit. True heroes. A performance like no other. Loud, piercing engine sounds – which sends shivers up your spine. That is Formula One.




Do you think F1G will allow teams with 2 liveries in 2020, like the BAR attempt back in 1999 ?


The designs were a lot more adventurous back then weren’t they?

Fulveo Ballabeo

What is Bernie doing with his left hand in that pic, and why is Schumacher smiling?


Having read all the parts of the series of Q/A, I need to write how much I love reading it and your candid, well informed and balanced answers.
Thank you for undertaking this project, a lot of the questions where similar to the ones I had in mind, which made it an even more compelling reading.

Fulveo Ballabeo

“If he doesn’t get a Renault seat for 2018 then he may have missed his chance”

–> Does that mean Perez shot himself in the foot? Before Renault went for Hulkenberg this year, the seat was offered to Perez first…but he turned it down on the hope of a grander 2018 drive.


I think Renault are the winners in this one. Go the Hulk !!


1.3m people die in car crashes.

Now it is clear that car has also become a weapon.

How do you feel about autonomous electric cars that have control and access restrictions now?

This type of stuff is only going to accelerate desire to adopt autonomous cars and take control away from humans. Car makers now are helpless to stop it, but autonomous cars could. Yet another benefit of electric autonomous cars, coming sooner than you think.


“Yet another benefit of electric autonomous cars, coming sooner than you think”

Yes, and at some point they may even be able to go out and do your shopping for you:

You: “Car, go get me some munchies.”
Car: “I’ll be back.”

What could possibly go wrong? 🙂


Unless they’re hacked which would be the next low level of terrorism right. It’s sadly already been shown to be easily done. Autonomous cars are not the answer.


@ Belle …my thoughts also.


1.3𝗺 𝗽𝗲𝗼𝗽𝗹𝗲 𝗱𝗶𝗲 𝗶𝗻 𝗰𝗮𝗿 𝗰𝗿𝗮𝘀𝗵𝗲𝘀.

The vast majority are in the likes of India, China, Russia, Vietnam, Malawi, Phillipines, Peru, Bolivia, Laos…………

Britain, Germany, Holland, the Nordics, Canada, Switzerland, Australia, Singapore, New Zealand and Japan have pretty good safety stats for road accidents – people do die in these country in road accidents, but nowhere near as many as the nations listed above!


Everyone watch TopGear in India. It’s better to drive at night as you don’t get to see the horrors around you.


Well, London may want electric autonomous cars by 2040, but India is pushing for 2030.


China already gas 3 out of 5 best selling electric cars in the world. 200 million electric scooters. 300,000 electric buses. Next….autonomous upgrade.

Between China and India you cover huge territory and population. And trust me, China and India both recognize the economic opportunity. They’re not going to wait for outsiders on electric car. But do they have their own IP for automation of automobile?


Not Correct : India is pushing for electric cars by 2030 for environmental purposes. On autonomous cars, we are a very divided nation as it will take away a lot of livelihoods if it comes to pass, so not many are keen on it.


Yes, environmental reason is what they will tell everyone. But if you think making electric cars for a country of 1.3B is not a huge economic opportunity and looked upon as such, you’re missing the real reason why it will happen. Don’t forget the generation piece as well – a lot of money on the table there.

As for autonomous, they won’t have a choice. Autonomous hardware will be standard equipment on electric cars by 2020. By 2030 it will be mandatory. I understand of course the jobs impact of autonomous cars. Question is, do those people want to be driving cars really? And will we want to be driven by humans if it means 10x the chance of injury or death? Or rather, will we be permitted to drive ourselves at all by then.

Of course the dead don’t vote, so that question is yet to be answered. I’m ready to turn control over if for no other reason but convenience. After all, when you’re a big shot you get driven around. It won’t be hard to make people understand the benefits of this.


“Question is, do those people want to be driving cars really?”

I can’t speak for everyone but I for one like driving Sebee, whether I’m being paid to do it or not.


There is driving and there is driving. Nice open road, scenery, who doesn’t like that drive.

Reality is that this type of driving is a small % of total road distance. I’m going to venture and say it is 1% of the drive done. It’s mostly routine boring commuting that most cars do.

When I had my bikes, I remember friends who used to ask, let’s ride around the city, go get a coffee – to which I’d say, no thanks. Or why don’t you ride it to work?
Hmmm…rushing drivers not paying attention before they got their coffee, stress, hot sweaty days with traffic not moving or rain, noise, etc. just to get to the where I need to be? Thanks no thanks, I’ll take the car, or if possible metro and read something on the way there.

On the other hand friend, you want to take the bikes for a 700km day on backroads? I’ll see you at the highway exit at 8AM! We’ll ride till sunset.

So, I understand that you like driving. But don’t try to convince me you like driving yourself to work in rush hour traffic each day. I’m going to guess that rush hour traffic periods are 70% of the car’s engine running time over lifetime of car. Fun driving?


That last paragraph Sebee – When you say rush hour traffic are you talking about when there’s more than three cars on the road?

You do realise that there are some places on Earth where you won’t find millions of people living next to each other and getting to work takes about five minutes, right?


Would it surprise you to learn that cities had 50% of population as of decade ago, and have grown since to probably 55% range today?

Would it surprise you to learn that it will be 70% by 2050?

Tell me about the need for intelligent integrated autonomous electric car network now!


If you’re talking about the fact that cities generally increase their population over time then yes, I was aware of that little factoid.

There are some places where the population of a city can actually go down – Sounds crazy I know, but it’s true.

Besides, I know you’re keen on the whole car sharing thing to beat traffic jams, but even if you have an autonomous car network if a city of millions, what will really change?

You’ll just have millions of people stuck in a car they don’t own, while others wait for a car to become available.

As I implied Sebee I don’t live in a place even remotely like that, but even if I did I still like to drive and more to the point I’d still like to be driving my own car thanks.

As has been pointed out autonomous cars will be great for some people and you’re welcome to them, but please don’t force them down people’s throats.


Also don’t forget older people who lose their licence, but still need mobility. Many will have the money for autonomous vehicles and the need


James, so many benefits to automation, it’s like I said – the only drawbacks are selfish ones.

Let your imagination run wild on the efficiencies alone. It is mind boggling what can be done with a fully integrated autonomous car network. It will redefine mobility and what the definition of a transit system is. And it will happen sooner than we think.


James, people say that today’s f1 cars are the fastest they’ve ever been. But visually (I mean on tv) somehow the cars from 02 to 05 looked faster.
Also, tyres are also such a deciding factor on who’s fast and who’s not. Is it possible that different tyres suit different drivers? I’m just remembering how kimi, Fernando and Robert lost some performance in 07 when the control tyres were introduced. Is it also possible that the limits of today’s tyres are easily more accessible so more drivers can be more competitive than before? Thanks


I think Kimi suffered more than anyone when Michelin dropped out.


𝗢𝗳 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗰𝘂𝗿𝗿𝗲𝗻𝘁 𝗴𝗲𝗻𝗲𝗿𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻, 𝘆𝗼𝘂’𝗱 𝗵𝗮𝘃𝗲 𝘁𝗼 𝘀𝗮𝘆 𝗔𝗹𝗼𝗻𝘀𝗼 𝘄𝗼𝘂𝗹𝗱 𝗽𝗿𝗼𝗯𝗮𝗯𝗹𝘆 𝘁𝗼𝗽 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗹𝗶𝘀𝘁 𝗮𝘀 𝗵𝗲 𝗶𝘀 𝗿𝗲𝗹𝗲𝗻𝘁𝗹𝗲𝘀𝘀 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝘃𝗲𝗿𝘆 𝗰𝗼𝗻𝘀𝗶𝘀𝘁𝗲𝗻𝘁

Which makes Honda’s troubles even more unfortunate…………and yet still, in his 15th consecutive season (without a break) Alonso is still amazingly motivated, sharp, focused and determined, and taking into account the equipment at his disposal and race performances, always tries his absolute hardest.

Most drivers in the Bearded Spaniard’s situation would have sunk into a valley of despair and given up, but as he showed in his brilliant performance in Hungary, Alonso is a Beast of a driver who always gives his best, no matter the adverse circumstances. And there’s not many drivers who keep their motivation and desire in adversity.


And the Great British Public agrees with you. When he did his fast lap at the end of Qualy 1 at Silverstone this year, the spectators stood as one and roared approval. We know what we’re missing !


For close to 2 million a race, what do you expect from a driver, but to do his best. Desperation? Give me a break, these guys are mercenaries, bunch of well paid professionals.


Interesting question at the end there James. Remembering Alonso’s fight with Vettel in 2012 was probably my favourite season of recent memory. And Alonso’s performance that year in an inferior car was one of the best. Up there with Senna in ’93 and Schumacher in ’96. Would you agree? I suppose you could throw Villeneuve into the mix with his drives in the ’80 and ’81 prancing dog ferraris. So I suppose as a question, what would be your top 5 underdog performances?


Sorry to say it, but it wasn’t Alonso with the inferior car, Vettel’s car was a pig for the first half of the season. So it really was a tale of 2 halves. 1st half Alonso had the best car and the second half Vettel. In the end the more talented driver won based on pure merit.


Uh, Red Bull led the WCC from the 3rd round on in 2012. Anyone who thinks Alonso had the best car in the first half is deluding themselves. While the Ferrari wasn’t the pig of a car Alonso made it out to be (they never were as bad as he let on), it was decidedly inferior to the Red Bull throughout 2012.


Sorry but at which races in 2012 was the Ferrari the best car? I agree the Red Bull was the best from Singapore onwards.


2010 was my favourite, three contenders to the title; with more 1st podiums, Fernando stumbled, Petrov a hill too big to climb.


Ferrari stumbled…


Hmm, it’s not like that strategy call was head-scratchingly bad at the time it was made. It turned out to be wrong, but it wasn’t obviously a bad call at the time it was made.

Can look earlier in the season to Alonso’s spin at Spa, his inability to give a position back at Silverstone, or his silly jump start in China. All three were driver error, and while Belgium might have only yielded 4 points (running an effective 8th at the time), the others would’ve been enough on their own to win the title.


When I saw the strategy call from my armchair I immediately felt it was off.. and I’m a nobody. Many others felt the same, including Ferrari now.

By your logic, driver error costing him the title, you should assess Seb and Webber for mistakes also. Ferrari had the 3rd best package that year… speaking of inability, Hamilton couldn’t even challenge for the title realistically despite Mclaren having far more points than Ferrari that year. Instead it was left to Alonso in the slower Ferrari to challenge Red Bull… and the Ferrari strategists.


Hmm, I’m not sure the Ferrari was the 3rd best package. In the first half McLaren were better than Ferrari, but then the Ferrari was better than the McLaren for the run-in. Just because Massa wasn’t getting the most out of it, doesn’t mean it was a bad car. Imagine if it was Alonso & Massa in the 2007 McLaren … would we then regard that car as distinctly second best, with Alonso outperforming the car? Is that his shtick? Make sure you have priority status over substandard teammates, and then pretend they’re taking the car to its natural finishing position? No doubt it’s helped his reputation … not sure it’s helped him with his haul of championships.

Sorry, but I don’t elevate Grosjean or Hulk to top-tier status just because they snag some points while their teammates lay a goose egg.

In 2010 Hamilton had more reliability issues than Alonso. He had a wheel rim failure in Spain on the penultimate lap while running 2nd, and a gearbox failure in Hungary while running 4th. Alonso’s only mechanical issue in 2010 was his engine blowing in Malaysia on the 2nd last lap, while he was running 9th.

So on a straight points-per-finish basis, excluding any mechanical retirements but keeping any driver-induced retirements, we have HAM at 14.12 and ALO at 14.00.

If we include the lost points from reliability (18 & 12 for Hamilton; 2 for ALO), then it changes to HAM 14.21 and ALO 13.37. Surely that deserves a hearty hurrah for Ferrari reliability!!

Lastly, I forgot about Alonso’s bad crash in FP3 at Monaco ’10, which then meant he couldn’t participate in qualifying, and he had to start from the pit lane. Massa finished 4th in the race, so Alonso would’ve finished at least there, and possibly 3rd. There was also his brain fade in Valencia in the later laps, which allowed Kobayashi to sneak by him. That’s the full Hamilton treatment, applied to Alonso.


@KRB I guess we’ve got to take your personal review on the 2010 as the white knight of the LH fan club then? It sounds so fair after all. Let’s see, Massa who many rightfully say drove and deserved the championship in 2008, suddenly became a nobody in 2010 when Alonso partnered. I recall you telling us 2007 Hamilton beat Alonso despite tying on points…but in 2010 when Mclaren finished well ahead of Ferrari (58 pts ahead), you claim it was just because Massa couldn’t score points. Red Bull, the dominant team, finished 44 pts ahead of Mclaren, so Ferrari was even further behind from Mclaren than Mclaren were to Red Bull. Glad to see you’ve got the bag of Hamilton excuses ready at any time. You could take the same logic and say Hamilton lost potential points driving the Mclaren…a better driver might have won with Mclaren in 2010. I happen to think you can only ask for number one status if you dominate your new second-string teammate, not if the team has to ask him to let you past twice in his 3rd race for the team.

By the way the F1 team bosses poll for 2010 had Alonso finishing ahead of Vettel, with Hamilton 3rd and far off on points…so its not just my opinion. I remember when I pointed out that Button outscored Hamilton in their 3 years at Mclaren, you proclaimed that Button was in his prime, and Hamilton was not yet at the prime F1 driver age. Does it mean anything then that James, who one can assume has at least as much knowledge as any of us, has said if he had to choose one driver to win a championship, it would be the elderly Alonso and not currently of prime age Hamilton? Guess the ‘shtick’ works then.


It’s always hilarious that the anti’s always change the rules when it concerns Hamilton. In 2007 Hamilton and Alonso scored the same number of points, but it is fact that Hamilton beat Alonso in 2007 by virtue of countback. Those are the rules. That is why he is placed 2nd, and Alonso 3rd, in the FIA’s official standings. 2nd is higher-placed than 3rd where I come from.

As for Massa, he should have won easily in that Ferrari in 2008. If it was Alonso in that Ferrari, it wouldn’t have been close. If Hamilton was in that Ferrari, and Massa in the McLaren, it wouldn’t have been close. Massa is not top-tier, and has never been top-tier. He likely lost a couple of tenths after his freak accident too. Hamilton of course had the reigning WDC Button in the sister car. Two drivers that have beaten Alonso over a season, and two of three seasons together, and you think he would’ve done better?

I don’t recall saying anything about Hamilton not being in his prime. I have said that his teammates were in their prime when he drove alongside them. Though there’s another of those silly stats of the anti’s, the “3 year championship” for Button, even though it was 2-1 in seasons won for Hamilton, which is all that matters.

I would agree that Alonso was the best driver in 2010, as they all made mistakes that year. In 2009 I disagreed with Vettel being top of that poll, when he had made a number of mistakes without which he would’ve had a really good shout at the title. Whereas Button had pressed his advantage when he was able, and drove to bag useful points later on.

However, as I stated I was giving Alonso the “full Hamilton treatment” … this means that only perfection will do, and any incident of imperfection is evidence of a fragile mindset. It’s true that if any of Alonso’s mistakes – listed above – were avoided that it could’ve won the title for him. If he were perfect that season, he would’ve won comfortably. As he wasn’t perfect when even near-perfection would’ve won him the title, the “Hamilton treatment” rules deem him reckless and wasteful with his competitive car.

As for James, I can respect that choice. Of course, I believe the original question is who you would bet your life on winning a championship in equal cars … James would have lost his life on two occasions in the past decade then (2007 and 2015), when Alonso trailed his teammate in the final standings.

The shtick works, definitely.


Ah yes, Massa easily should have won in 2008, because his Ferrari was superior right? Ferrari finished ahead of Mclaren by 21 points in Constructors in 2008, with a team composed of Kimi and Massa. Mclaren had Lewis and Heikki. When it’s convenient for you, you’ll throw in the theories….that in 2010 Ferrari were as good as Mclaren despite finishing 58 points behind, but in 2008 Ferrari were superior to Mclaren despite only finishing 21 points ahead. And Alonso is the one with a weak team mate hence the points deficit of Ferrari in 2010, he’s the one who has “substandard team-mates and priority status”. Heikki said he felt like a number 2 driver the moment he started at Mclaren, so their 21 point deficit in 2008 is easily explained by driver ability. Whats hilarious is you’ve put forward your theories and they all apply against you in 2008. Double standard…is that your shtick?

As for James’ choice, I’d assume he’d know not to lie to a driver he hired, so 2007 might never have happened. Regardless he wouldn’t have lost any less picking Hamilton. If I had to choose between a guy who beat Massa (with some assistance from Glock and Renault) and Rosberg (2 out of 3), versus a guy who beat Schumacher in similarly paced machinery twice, it’s an easy decision.


If I had to choose between a guy who beat Massa (with some assistance from Glock and Renault) and Rosberg (2 out of 3), versus a guy who beat Schumacher in similarly paced machinery twice, it’s an easy decision.

Hmm, so how about the guy that beat – in 3 of 4 seasons – the guy that beat Schumacher 3 straight seasons in the EXACT same car? The one who beat Alonso in the EXACT same car in their one season together?

Glock and Renault? How did Renault clandestinely help? This would be a new one.


I’d say I was surprised by the level of desperation but I’m not.. the Schumacher that returned after years of retirement.. you’re really shooting for the stars now. Not even Rosberg would ever suggest he was better than Schumacher pre-retirement. As for Lewis he can’t even handle Bottas, team orders and all. It’s a laughable suggestion. The fact that you bring up 2007 as a realistic and fair reference all the time when Mclaren clearly separated from Alonso before the season even ended is pathetic. Bottas isn’t even a Nico or Kimi level driver.. and your talking about Lewis treatment as measured against “perfection”? The guy has been so far away from perfect over any season. If you were truly interested in perfect seasons you’d definitely place Schumacher and Alonso far closer to prefect across a certain season on their time. What’s next on your comparison.. Mansell’s return and how it adds to Lewis now?


Well, well. I saw your lovely response in my email. Quite the Kevin Keegan-esque reply from yourself. Guess I really am SAF in this instance (that acronym stood for something else when you used it before).


Facts are that when Alonso had Hamilton or Button as his teammate, he lost 2 out of the 3 seasons. F-A-C-T. And that was against a rookie Hamilton, and an aging Button, so let’s imagine how he would fare against both in their prime.

Your only source for considering 2007 as not fair or representative, is Alonso himself! Talk about your vested interest!! Alonso claims he was treated unfairly, and you gobble it up without questioning any of it. Funny that Hamilton is the one accused of fostering a cult of personality.


I gave a clear example of proof when Whitmarsh years later admitted he was unaware of Dennis word to Alonso. That’s more valuable than your blog links. As for your facts… here’s a fact. The only teammate Hamilton has made look terrible is Kova. Everyone else hasn’t been far off, and in the case of Button and Nico, has beaten him. Sounds really special. There are many fans who find it more impressive Alonso tied when being shown the door at Mclaren. All your theories on lies won’t change that.


Your Whitmarsh quote is no proof that they weren’t treated equally in 2007! It’s a proof that Alonso was promised priority status, and that Dennis went back on that during the season. Again, you’re making the case that an anti-racing promise is the be all, end all. That Alonso felt that he needed to fall back on that, against a rookie (a very strong rookie, but still a rookie!), is all you need to know about that season.

Button in 2011 was the best performing teammate that Hamilton has had. Hamilton was better than Alonso in 2007, better than Button 2 of 3 seasons, and was better than Nico in all 4 seasons, but was undone by lopsided unreliability last year. All done in equal opportunity teams, and always against those drivers in their prime.

All of which has led us to the present day situation: the guy who will take on all comers is in a very good team with a very good car, whereas the guy who needs to have a team focus their main attention on him, is left with few options for a 2018 drive. It would not surprise me at all if Alonso gets McLaren to ditch Honda just as they come good.


I’m not surprised you can’t extricate yourself from bias. If Whitmarsh, the second in command can say he only found out about a verbal agreement years later, and can then say had he known he’d have completely changed his opinion, it shows the entire Mclaren organization did not have all the facts. That alone is all the proof one needs and far better than your opinion from your armchair. As for the rest of your excuses for Hamilton’s performance.. all I hear is… “b b but..but.. b b but”. Do you actually hear yourself? You look for any possible excuse for Hamilton but slam others ignoring any reasons for them. It’s tired, boring and old.. which says a lot.


You’re projecting again cheesy. All that you accuse me of, you’ve been doing.

I guess Whitmarsh knowing would have made him more sympathetic, but it still doesn’t mean that the team didn’t work to give them the same car to work with. Not hard to comprehend. A team like McLaren prides itself on that.

So while it would have mitigated the feelings Whitmarsh and others likely had of “why is he self-imploding like that?”, it would not have caused him to give priority to Alonso, when for large stretches of that season it was the McLaren duo out front in the standings, over a race win ahead of the Ferrari drivers.

Do you hear yourself?! You accuse others of being bitter and desperate. Time for some introspection cheesy. Could it just be you’re describing yourself with such accusations? I get that you like Alonso, and his situation is quite dire at the moment. At the end of the day though, it’s a silly thing to be bitter about. It’s just sport.

Did you ever respond back to C63 on this thread? It looked like there was some progress to be made there, however uncomfortable.

Finally, I guess you just misspoke with that Renault thing.


… you’d definitely place Schumacher and Alonso far closer to prefect …

Gotta say, I missed it the first time, but that is a very apt typo, especially for Alonso.


2007 at McLaren Alonso was treated equally. He even got preferential treatment at the start of that year. That wasn’t enough for him, so he blew his top. Alonso separated himself from the team, because he couldn’t take having a strong teammate. Alonso fled, just as Seb fled after 2014. Seb just did it without blaming everyone else left and right, or setting his own hair on fire, so he has my full respect for maintaining his dignity even while being outperformed.

Facts are whenever Alonso has had a tougher teammate that he’s lost more seasons than he’s won.

Bottas is easily better than the Kimi of today. He’s not as good as Nico was in the races, but that’s coming.

The Lewis Treatment is how others use any little mistake, and use it as “smoking gun” evidence of Hamilton’s ineptitude. They all make mistakes, but people remember Hamilton’s only because they care to remember them. Their focus is totally on him. Other driver’s mistakes are quickly forgotten, because they don’t really care about those drivers.

What’s this Renault business about again?


Fantastic stuff James! I take my hat off with this Q&A initiative! I massively appreciate the hard work you put here to keep in touch with fans and bring us some of the more insightful comments. That’s always very valued and all the more now in the summer break, when most F1 sites are silent or simply making copy-paste of declarations (many of them made even before the summer break)

This, alongside your thoughtful and unbiased approach, is why I consider this site a must and probably the most valued source of F1 content for any F1 fan.

Sincerely, thanks a lot!

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