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Alonso: Another championship is the target

NEWS STORY
10/08/2016

For younger fans it might seem hard to believe but in 2004, at 24 years and 58 days, Fernando Alonso became the youngest world champion in the history of F1, going on to become the youngest two-time champion a year later.

That record was subsequently shattered by Sebastian Vettel and currently all eyes are on Max Verstappen lowering the record ever further.

Over the course of fifteen seasons, the Spaniard has gone from wide-eyed, but very impressive, rookie to seasoned veteran, finishing championship runner-up on three occasions and having driven for a variety of teams including Minardi, Renault, Ferrari and McLaren (twice).

Speaking to the official F1 website, he admits that he is aware he has changed since his F1 debut in 2001.

"You change in any ways, not just as a driver," he says. "A person at 19 years of age is completely different than a man of 35. That goes for any kind of relationship: family, friends, and the approach to the team, the working methods and of course the media.

"Everything changes, not because you want to have it changed in one direction, but because life changes you! You cannot escape that, the Peter Pan story of not growing old is only a fairy tale!"

Those three runner-up seasons are indicative of the sort of frustration the Spaniard has endured over the years, but yet here he is still racing.

"Probably success is the most important thing of the enjoyment of being here," he says. "You are here to compete, you are here to compete against 21 other drivers and try to be the best in the world. So being on the podium, winning a race or even a championship: these are the moments of ultimate enjoyment.

"But then there is also the joy about other things that surround F1. The travelling that gave me the opportunity to travel to many countries I probably would have never seen in another life: India, Korea, Russia or Azerbaijan. I am happy with all the fantastic side effects the sport has given me."

Asked if there are destinations he still wishes to visit, he admits: "There are always places that attract your attention. Argentina for example - one day I want to go and visit Argentina. South Africa is another destination - probably all the places that we don’t have any more in Formula One.

"And then why not go to Terra de Fuego - to the furthest south - or to Alaska, way up north? I am that kind of person! I am still young - even if not any more - but at least I do feel that way, so I want to see all these places. You have to take chances whenever they come your way as you never know when they dry up!"

And those years of finishing runner-up, any regrets?

"Not really," he insists. "I have been so lucky in my entire career to fight for championships... yes, there have been more good opportunities for me but for one reason or the other it did not happen."

But five titles would have put him, statistically, on a par with Fangio, second only to Michael Schumacher.

"Yes probably," he admits, "but my career path also could have ended in karting! So everything is perfect for me."

So, what is left to achieve...

"Another championship is the ultimate target," he admits, " and we are working hard on that project. And with the new regulations in place next year we will probably get the excitement back as the cars will be much more attractive and much faster. That is still the target that Fernando wants to achieve!"

Much has been made of the fact that, along with McLaren-Honda making a big step forwards, it is only the prospect of exciting rules changes that is keeping the Spaniard in the sport.

"Yes, because it means that you are very excited in the car when you jump in," he says. "I expect the feeling of ‘wow’ again, as when I started in F1!"

In addition to being ultra-competitive, racing drivers have a reputation for being hard taskmasters, difficult to please, particularly in terms of themselves.

"Yes!" he admits. "But for the people around me it is even harder! I’ve known myself for many years so I can deal with it, but the others… oh boy!"

Over the last couple of seasons, Alonso has developed a keen, dry sense of humour. Having previously said one needs to be an actor to survive in F1, he is asked whether he would best suit drama or comedy.

"Comedy of course, all the time!" he replies. "Everything in Formula One is a comedy: it is a sport, nothing really serious, so definitely not a drama. It is a bit like those slapstick comedies where you get hit on the head - and the next day you are as good as new. I would definitely be a comedy actor… Jim Carrey, any of his roles! I think he would do well in F1, making a mockery of everything!"

Which is as good an excuse as any for...

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by Jonno, 15/08/2016 0:12

"Alonso is certainly a comedian if he expects us to believe McLaren will produce a chassis capable of winning races any time soon. I won't even bother to mention their frequent 'finger' problems and awful strategy that have lost them many races in every season when they've produced a car that's been half decent.
"

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