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Thread: F1 2018

  1. #276
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    Oct 2003
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    Autosport plus - F1 says goodbye to Alonso

    Though his Formula 1 career spans 17 years, Fernando Alonso remains an enigmatic character to many. So what really makes him tick? With four races to go until he leaves the grid - for now at least - here are friends, rivals and former colleagues' insights into a supremely talented, ruthless and extremely clever racing driver

    There are just four races to go in Fernando Alonso's Formula 1 career - or at least this episode of it, if he really does keep the door open to a future return.

    Though his career may not have generated all the world championships it seemed it might, he has certainly made an impression on his rivals and those who worked with him.

    Lewis Hamilton - McLaren team-mate in 2007
    He will be missed within the racing world. It's a shame he's not as decorated as he deserves, but it's not just about being a great driver: it's also how you play the game and how you position yourself.

    He's the best driver I've raced against and I wish him all the best. Seventeen seasons is a long time and I have huge respect for that. It's a lot of commitment, time and dedication that people might not fully appreciate.



    Paddy Lowe - McLaren engineering director in 2007
    He's very intelligent and he's able to deploy that to magnificent effect when driving. He is thinking all the time and making intelligent choices, and that's on top of his incredible skill in controlling the car.

    He combines his skills with a great ability to think about what's going on and what he's doing, and he applies that cleverness outside the car as well. He's one of the best drivers of the current generation.



    Jenson Button - McLaren team-mate, 2015-2016
    In many ways, Fernando was an even tougher team-mate than Lewis was. Yes, there were days when Lewis would just do something amazing, but there were other days when you got everything right and you'd wonder where he'd gone.

    With Fernando there were never any days like that. If he was behind you, he'd always be pushing you like crazy. If he was ahead of you, then you'd be hanging on.



    Carlos Sainz Sr - friend and double World Rally champion
    Sometimes Fernando is very direct, and when he tries to protect himself this can generate some animosity. But his image is worse than the reality.

    He is very shy and that is why sometimes he is defensive, but when you meet him he's actually very funny - and he loves card tricks and magic. Sometimes he can be overprotective of himself, and I think it would be good for the people to know him a bit more.



    Felipe Massa - Ferrari team-mate, 2010-13
    He is an amazing driver; one of the quickest and also one of the most consistent and aggressive. But when we worked together, Fernando's biggest problem was the way he is very political, very selfish. I think sometimes that doesn't help him or the team.

    It's difficult to understand him; he was not a problem, he was always kind. But he has a personality you cannot trust. He is sometimes one way, then he'll be completely opposite.



    Paul Stoddart - Minardi owner and team principal in 2001
    When I bought Minardi at the end of 2000, Fernando was so enthusiastic. He was in the factory helping us to build the car - we only had six weeks and three days to get to Melbourne.

    He was there for many of the late nights and early mornings. Even the 12th-place finish that he took for us at his first race in Australia was outstanding. The car had been thrown together and he just went out there and wrung its neck.



    Andrea Stella - Ferrari and McLaren race engineer, 2010-18
    Our collaboration over the years was very positive, and straight away he had quite a lot of trust in the people around him. He was relaxed and open to our way of working at Ferrari. He's also very charismatic and it was an enjoyable time together where we'd make jokes and talk about arranging a game of basketball next time we were in Maranello.

    To be a winner you have to be a fighter. I don't trust those who want to look like angels because without that fighting quality you won't succeed. This is part of his character that can make him difficult, but he knows what he is capable of. Occasionally, you have to tell people things they don't want to hear because there are other egos at play.

    I think he is much cleverer than me. In the race I'd say "we need to do something" and he'd come back with an answer I'd never have thought of. And he could do it while driving.



    Bernie Shrosbree - Human performance director at Renault in 2002
    He was a quiet lad; a reserved guy. We nicknamed him 'Droopy', after the cartoon dog with the sad-looking eyes. In 2002 he was a Renault test driver and was really unhappy he wasn't racing: he always had drive and determination.

    Some people found him tricky to work with, but sportsmen like him need to be strongly managed. He might have been let down by team bosses who lacked the necessary skills.



    Pat Symonds - Benetton & Renault technical boss, 2002-06 and 2008-09
    Fernando is clever but very laid back, and in the early days this could mask his intensity. In a briefing you'd think he wasn't paying attention, and then he would ask an incredibly pertinent question that showed he was really digging deep.

    There's a lot of capacity when he's driving, too. He set the fastest lap at the Canadian GP one year and was talking to us nearly all the way round the lap about some aspects of the race.



    Then there's the other side. At the end of 2006 we were fighting hard for the title, we were under a lot of pressure, and our competitiveness against Ferrari was decreasing. Then, out of the blue, Fernando did a press conference and just laid into Renault and slagged them off. It was devastating for the team and he lost a lot of friends.

    I don't think the team situation is important to him other than in terms of what it can bring him. He returned to Renault in 2008 because he was in a position where the only thing he could do was come back. Time and time again he leaves himself in positions where he doesn't have options.

    He's clever when it comes to racing, but in life he's not that clever. There are times in life when you don't do the best thing for that day, you play the long game. I don't think that comes onto Fernando's radar at all.



    Eric Boullier - McLaren racing director, 2015-18
    The difference between Fernando and the rest of the world is that he is on top of his skills and it's more than determination for him: he has an absolute need to win. It's like somebody needing oxygen to breathe. If he doesn't win, then he fades.

    Character-wise, when the momentum is strong, then everything works well. But if you start to head into a downward spiral, then the trust is broken and that's when the mess starts to happen - that's the reason why he fell out with both Renault and Ferrari.

    He knows his own power. The team will always be the bad boy and the driver the good boy. But as long as the team are delivering the performance and he can see that your commitment and determination is right, then you will always have his full support and commitment in return.


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  2. #277
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  4. #278
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    Worth getting up to watch Kimi win that one.
    He then ripped Lewis in the driver room - asking if he won the championship? LOL

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