Fernando Alonso, Renault, 2005

Alonso says V10 era was F1’s best

2014 F1 season

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Fernando Alonso, Renault, 2005Fernando Alonso says he enjoyed Formula One the most during the era of V10 engines.

The Ferrari driver, who is about to experience the second change in engine formula of his F1 career, said the lighter and more powerful cars of that time were the most interesting to drive.

“The truth is that all eras are different and all remain unique in their own time,” said Alonso in a question and answer session with Ferrari fans.

“Personally I have only experienced three: the V10 era when I started my career up until 2005, then on from 2006 until 2010 with the V8s, still with good levels of car performance, and lastly the era from 2010 up until now with the introduction of Pirelli tyres that have changed a little the style of driving.

“In any case, of the three I’d choose the first when we had very fast and light cars, often weighing 150 to 200 kilos less than the current ones, with nearly 1000 horsepower, so definitely those years were the ones that gave me the most excitement.”

Alonso won the final championship in which V10 engines were permitted in 2005.

“Looking back to the past it becomes difficult to choose an era,” he continued. “In the nineties the cars looked good aesthetically, but I wouldn’t know how they were to drive.”

“However, if we imagine the future, say in 2030 or 2040, the cars will look even more spectacular so for this reason it is hard to choose.”

“The V10 era remains the more interesting for me,” Alonso concluded.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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62 comments on “Alonso says V10 era was F1’s best”

  1. Those day when engine roar like a proud beast instead of crying.

    Those days when only few drivers could flat out at pouhon and eau rouge without lifting…… while majority spun trying to do the same.

    Those days when you are crap driver, there’s no way to hide.

    1. David not Coulthard (@)
      26th January 2014, 14:55

      Those day when engine roar like a proud beast instead of crying.

      And I think the turbos are a bit more of the latter than the V8s.

    2. nostalgia fails… the v8s of past 6 years sounded like crying, and these v6s will sound like a roaring (they do from the Mercedes video), and will sound better then the 80s turbos, the era that nostalgia fans love but never commentate on their sound. drivers going flat out at pouhon and eau rouge – yeh, when the track and car allowed it – often only the car with most downforce, not the best driver, and often led to high rated drivers crashing there and not low rated drivers (ie villenueve 98,99). lets all hate progress and have the same looking and sounding cars forever, and the same team at the front forever.

      1. dude how about changing but for the better ?
        how about keep the sound and speed and change whatever they wanted

      2. All while putting out less and less horsepower with restricted revs. That can hardly be considered progress. And all the gimmicks they’ve added to the show make it hard to watch, particularly the fabulous exploding tires. I get sick hearing engineer after engineer key the radio to tell the driver to slow down, the tires are suffering. They have turned F1 drivers into the world’s most expensive babysitters.

    3. Those days when only few drivers could flat out at pouhon and eau rouge without lifting…… while majority spun trying to do the same.

      Wut? Those days were within the last 15ish years.

    4. The purity of the sport was there but the spectacle had some problems some companys some sponsors had a stranglehold on the sport but somehow it was all about pure spectacular driving I really enjoyed that pinnacle of exuberance even if watching the races was just about 350kmh sliding and roaring. My favourite era to watch was the 60s 70s and the 98 to 2004 period all had lightweight sliding exciting machines to watch driving little downforce is always exciting but there were other eras with the pink memories factor and great matchups like the otherwise boring late 80s early 90s but the cars look good.

      1. Guess i like cars that dont look like airplanes such as the pointy aggressive jordans of 2000

    5. The V10’s screamed more-so than roared. 20,000 rpm is no roar; that is a scream.

      The V8’s scream also; ive been to gp’s with both; both sound great.

    6. Those days when you are crap driver, there’s no way to hide.

      These days, some are stating that it is unsafe to ban tyre warmers because it will give the cars less grip for a lap.

      I honestly think that these days, given some preparation, anyone with any racing experience could put in a lap not miles off what the slower drivers can do. 10 years ago, most would struggle to even complete a lap.

  2. I have to disagree Fernandy.

    Processional races, cars even uglier than now, a selection of terrible circuits (Magnys Cours, anyone?)

    For me, the best era of F1 was the decade between ’88 and ”98

    1. @ukphillie Since FA was not talking about the quality of the races but about the pleasure of driving the car your comment is not relevant to what he said.

      Also I’d have to disagree with you on all counts.
      Processional races? are DRS passes better?
      ugly cars? in 2001-2005? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder but I think you’re mixing the periods up
      And I’d take Magny Cours over India, Valencia, Korea and of course the mother of all evil Abu Dhabi any day of the year

      1. I’m not bothered about how it is to drive, I have not and never will drive one.

        As a spectator it wasn’t the best era for me.

        And I’d take all those circuits over Magnys Cours, and of course that horrible Indy Road Course.

        1. @ukphillie Have you watched races live at those times? I had, once, and it was extremely exciting for me(except for the traction control, knowing they had it took away some of the excitement, but they had it for the V8’s as well until 2009). I’ve been to a race again in 2009 at the same track(Spa) and it was not the same. The way the ground was vibrating and the whole valley was alive for those V10’s was mesmerizing. I can only imagine what it was like in 1995 when the V12 was around

          And certainly there were some years that were exciting for the racing as well(for me 2000 was the best)

          Agree about Indy road course it was terrible, but not Magny Cours. I liked more of the tracks then than I did in 2013. Take the last year of V10 in 2005. There were 19 races(Spa was supposed to be the 20th) and the changes were Imola, Magny Cours, Istanbul, USA versus Singapore,Korea, India Abu Dhabi and USA Texas. Obviously USA Texas>>>USA Indy but the rest? Singapore is all 90 degree corners, Korea is dreary, India has elevation changes but nothing else and IMO you have to go as far back as USA Phoenix to find a track that is so bad it can be compared to Abu Dhabi. Thankfully the Tesco car park Valencia was gone this year already

          1. I agree that the V10’s were mighty. I have been to Silverstone every year since 1996, only missing 2000, 2010 and 2012.

            Traction control took an awful lot away for me.

            Nothing like the rumble of a V10 though, I’ll give you that.

    2. Alonso was talking about times when he was a driver.

    3. Steph (@stephanief1990)
      26th January 2014, 14:25

      Erm, if processional races are a problem then it’s surprising you like 88-89 when McLaren walked it!

      1. David not Coulthard (@)
        26th January 2014, 14:58

        Neither Prost nor Senna did.

    4. F1 must be like music, everyone thinks their era is the best….

      1. Exactly. People tend to embellish the times of their youth and say that “back in the day” things were better. Fernando won his first F1 championship with V10, which is also a huge factor. It’s nothing but nostalgia.

  3. Personally, the V8 era is my favorite so far mostly because although the V10s were amazing and monstrous, it just looks slow and heavy when you’re riding onboard. 2010 was my favorite season because the quickest driver and car combo would get pole and win the race. No differing fuel loads. No Pirelli tyres. Flat-out racing. Let’s hope 2014 lives up to the hype.

    1. 2010 was boring as hell. People tend to rose-tint that season an awful lot. The cars were extremely ugly (all those horrific shark fins!), and many of the races were very, very dull.

      I remember 2011 being better, but 2012 was superb.

      I seem to remember enjoying 1999 an awful lot.

      1. 2010 was boring as hell.


        A close championship battle to the final race, 5 drivers in contention to the end, A come from behind championship winner.

        More on-track overtaking than any season since 1989, Some real overtaking rather than the artificial DRS passing we have had since.

        2010 was a brilliant season overall.

        1. Agree. 2010 was amongst the best seasons I’ve ever seen

          1. no, 2010-2013 were boring as hell, since we knew only one driver would be winning the championship long before the season close, the ***** luckiest driver to race in f1….

        2. +10

      2. There was only one thing 2010 really lacked (aside from good-looking cars, as you said)- frequent battles for first place. There was often lots of great action on track, but for the most part it happened behind the leaders. 2011 had more action at the very front from what I remember, and therefore probably did have more stand-out race, but it had an awful championship battle and DRS spoiled everything a bit.

        1. I’ve never been especially bothered about if there was a battle at the front or not as long as something was going on somewhere in the field to keep the race exciting.

          There is more to a race than the lead & more cars in the race than the top 2-3, I watch the entire field & the racing going on throughout the entire field, Don’t care if the best racing is for 1st or 21st as long as there’s good, exciting & hard fought racing going on with some hard fought & exciting overtaking.

          Maybe this is because as a long term fan of around 40yrs, We never really got much action at the front back in the day & the race been won by a runaway leader was commonplace. All the action was traditionally behind in the mid-field.

          I actually think thats part of why there’s a divide with stuff like DRS. The longer term fans like the racing as it was because they don’t feel the need for 80+ passes every race, The younger fans tend to have shorter attention spans & require there to be action every lap to keep there add brains amused.

          1. I find a race for the lead very exciting, but certainly still appreciate a race for lower positions. There some great races in 2011, but 2010 was far superior as a season. It was the last ‘pure’ one we had for one thing. And if we never get another, at least F1 went out then in style.

      3. Are you having a laugh? 2010 boring? It went down to the last race with so many title contenders!

        And then you said 2011 is better??!?!? The season Vettel demolished? Ha. What are you on about mate.

        2010 was my favourite. Quali was FLAT OUT. No Pirellis to hinder hard pushes, no drs, no kers.

    2. the v10s looked slow and heavy onboard? I don’t think so, only a “tiny” bit slower in braking and turning, but that is natural evolution anyway, the cars get quicker in that every year. the acceleration and top speed of those v10s was great.

      1. Try the grooved tyres *cough*.

        They drastically influenced grip factors.

        2004/2005 cars on slicks would be ridiculously fast.

  4. Of those three periods, I’d probably agree it was the best overall for fans to watch the cars on the limit as well(quality of racing notwithstanding), with the exception of maybe 2009-10, since it eliminated the plague of the previous 8 years(coincidentally precisely the years since Alonso’s arrival in F1)-traction control. Knowing drivers are aided not by their natural skills but by an electronic assistant in the traction phase took away some of the excitement for me. Of the V10 era for me the best year in every way was 2000. Lots of power, cars sliding a lot and looked good and mostly clean

    1. the thing is though, all drivers had traction control – so it was equal for all. and when traction control was banned, they still had engine mapping which controls torque, and the f1 drivers didn’t have to change their driving hardly at all, how often do you see them spin the rear wheels past that era? I don’t think minardi had a great traction control system in 2001, when Alonso at 19 years of age showed the world he would be a future world champion four year later, dethroning a 7 times world champion in a better car who had more time in a traction controlled f1 car (remember Alonso sat 2002 out and Ferrari had endless testing – and don’t forget the other 20 drivers on the grid, so don’t bother trying to belittle Alonso for winning when traction control was allowed).

      1. I wasn’t belittling Alonso at all. Alonso, if I remember correctly kept on winning after the TC was banned did he not? Don’t where you got the notion that I’m trying to “belittle Alonso”? Because I said that coincidentally it started in F1 the same year as Alonso did? Coincidences happen sometimes, you know…

        also disagree about the rest of your post.
        Engine mapping is not the same as traction control. Moreover you have the ECU that makes damnn sure it’s not anything like traction control. Some drivers didn’t have to change their driving style significantly, some did it varied from driver to driver

        To sum up: traction control doesn’t belong in F1. These are the best drivers in the world and the torque should be controlled by their right foot not electronic tricks. Knowing that they had that from 2001 onwards diminished my excitement from watching the cars considerably despite the power of the V10 as compared to the year 2000 as “excitement peak baseline”. Still it was much better than the 2006-8 V8’s with traction control.

        I’m sure that despite the traction control it was exciting time to drive an F1 car(595 kg, 900hp, not bad eh?). I don’t doubt Alonso is being genuine. But from many fans’ point of view TC was a problem

    2. @montreal95 Traction control wasn’t there in 2008 either.

      1. @david-a So it was. Thanks very much for the correction!

  5. I’d agree with him, as it was the era I grew up with, black and white McLarens, yellow Jordans, red Ferraris driven by a certain German, Williams with the BMW engines and more memories like that.

    However the one memory that stands out is domination by Schumacher.

    Not the best era for me.

    In my lifetime, the best era for me was quite possibly the era we have just come out of. Yes DRS and exploding tyres didn’t help but there were some absolutely fantastic races between 2009 and 2013. Some fantastic drivers have driven in it too.

    1. @craig-o Agree on all counts, except that for me the best year of F1 was 1995, followed closely by 2000(the last year before Schumacher domination). In the V10 era 2000 was the best. No traction control, beautiful cars, great engines and a great fight for WDC between MH and MS! And that Jordan EJ10 http://www.statsf1.com/constructeurs/photos/49/3.jpg

  6. Fernando chooses the era which didn’t have a freeze on engine development. Couldn’t agree more. We hardly ever have discussions about the power of the different engines anymore because they are so similar in terms of power and reliability.

  7. Era where men separated from boys. Beautiful cars with beast engine. Missing those beautiful days.

  8. Also, it’s worth pointing out that there were many electronic driving aids in the era Fernando mentioned..

  9. The V10 engines were certainly more spectacular than the V8s. But it didn’t always make for good racing – 2004 was one of the dullest seasons I’ve seen in 25 years. This year’s engines are more interesting from a technical point of view and promise to be more challenging to drive as well, which all sounds good to me.

    The have been steps forwards and steps backwards since the V10 era. Double points, DRS and aero rules which have given us increasing odd-looking cars are errors that need to be weeded out. But there are at least ten ways F1 has improved since then.

    1. @keithcollantine – I concur that whilst the engines themselves were more desirable and spectacular, the formula that they created wasn’t. With V8s we had spell-bounding seasons such as 2007, 2010 and 2012, but scarlett dreariness certainly is, if somewhat unfairly, becoming associated with the “V10 era”. However, for me at least, the fundamentally similar gearing and mapping of the V8s in recent years has made the sound somewhat stale, and with the impressive sounding V6s, I hope that a degree of audible variation will take part in heralding the rise of a new era.

  10. Cars looked better and I can imagine they were more fun to drive. However, while the V10’s were amazing on paper, the fact that they were driven with the help of traction control and were powering cars on threaded tyres basically meant a lot of the power never got to reach the tarmac anyway. I’d rather have engines with slightly less power on slicks and without the help of electronic aids. V8’s were underpowered compared to the amount of downforce the cars had though, but I’m optimistic that’ll change this year.

  11. As a fan of F1 since 1998, my favourite era was the V8s, pre-Pirelli and DRS, from 2006 until 2010. Only once in that period (2009) did the championship not go down to the final round. The racing was great in terms of both on-track action and in terms of strategic battles. I remember being on the edge of my seat a lot during those years.

    The championships were also close and hard-fought. In those 5 seasons, a total of 8 different drivers (Schumacher, Alonso, Raikkonen, Hamilton, Massa, Button, Vettel, Webber) from 5 different teams (Ferrari, Renault, McLaren, Brawn GP, Red Bull) arrived at the final round of the season with a chance to win the title – and double points were not even needed to create that.

    1. Pedantic correction: And I think you know it be the case because you said it in your first paragraph. No-one could beat Button in his BGP01 at the final round.

      I agree with you completely though, ’07, final round, three drivers, one point. ’08, final round, two drivers, one point. ’09, slightly different but still hugely entertaining, judging after the first few races you’d have thought it’d all have been done and dusted early. For it to go as long as it did was excellent (Although stressful for long serving JB fan) as Brawn faltered and Red Bull finally came to the fore. Double points might have made it more exciting, but the result would have been flawed.

  12. A lot of people tend to see the V10’s as defining F1, Yet its interesting to remember that V10’s were only used in F1 from 1989-2005, For much of F1’s history it was V8’s which were the preferred engine formula.

    Also as others said, For much of the time Alonso was in F1 using a V10 all the torque/power was been held back by driver aids. He only drove 4 races with a V10 without driver aids (1st 4 races of 2001).

    By all accounts this year’s V6 turbo’s will have more torque than the V10’s & similar levels of power to the V8’s (Which were hardly slow) so im sure that the next era will provide just as much excitement for the drivers as far as handling the engine performance as the V10 era did.

    1. To add to that, the Cosworth DFV was a V8.

  13. What’s up with the headline?, a little misleading.

    1. I noticed that trend too lately.

    2. @zoomracing The headline is a fair reflection of what Alonso said. Neither of the two of you who are objecting to it have offered an explanation otherwise.

      1. @keithcollantine Well, the headline gives the impression Alonso thinks V10 era was best to everybody, to drivers, teams, fans etc.
        Alonso: “V10 era cars were best to drive”
        would have been more accurate headline.

        1. There’s nothing wrong with the headline. I think it conveys Fernando’s sentiment pretty well. There are times when I find Keith’s headlines a bit sensationalist, but this is not one of them.

  14. The early 2000’s were quite boring, not because of the V10 engines, but rather due to Ferrari domination. When Ferrari was competitive but not dominant, like in 2003, we saw one of the most exciting F1 seasons in history.

  15. In my truly honest opionion – from 2007 to 2010 was _the_ best era in F1. That includes both pre-slick 07/08 and post-slicks years.

    dominance of schumacher was gone. great racing all over the grid, lovely looking and advanced cars, pretty close fighting at the top end all of those four years. And intrigues – f.ex Mclaren vs Ferrari war in 2007, 2009-politics about an additional F1-series and so on.

  16. What I thought was particularly interesting about Alonso’s comments was how he separated the V8 era into pre- and post-Pirelli. I think that says something about how the current tyres have affected his enjoyment of driving.

  17. Before the 2013 Canadian Grand Prix, Alonso was interviewed by the Latin American broadcast. In the interview he was asked about his favorite era of his career. He expressed the same things said here.
    And I can´t agree more
    I´ve heard the V8 engine in real life from less than 10 meters of me. I had goosebumps very time I heard in TV the sound of the cars starting the race. For me the V8 era was incredible, but I think that V10 was way long better, it was glorious.
    The cars were very difficult to drive, and were way faster than the V8s. They actually fight for position, and DRS wasn´t needed to overtake in a straight, and rubber lasted long enough to overtake so many drivers.
    When I saw the 2004 Monaco Qualifying the drivers were so fast and very accurate in the corners that I thought ” You have to an alien to drive one of these in Monaco” Today I don´t get that feeling so much.
    In Canada 2004 Barrichello overtook Raikkonen in the back straight; WITHOUT DRS.
    When I hear the roar of the V10 in a video, it brings me back so many good memories and I hope that one day I can hear that engine in front of me, that would be a dream.
    The V10 era was better because there was no artificial racing, it was pure driver skill. Destroy DRS and ditch no-lasting tyres and I would change my opinion.

  18. As far as engines are concerned the best year was 1994 and let me remind you why. It was the last year of the 3.5lt engines, we had the most engine suppliers (Renault, honda, Mercedes, Ferrari, Peugeot, Ilmor, Hart, Yamaha, and Ford in 2 versions the benetton one and the customer). Obviously Honda was in demise, Mercedes had just entered and Peugeot only participated because WSC was scarpped, but the 3 top ones Renault, Ferrari and Ford gave incredible battles with each other while having notable strengths and weaknesses.
    The v10 Renault was the best all rounder and the most reliable, Ferrari V12 was the most powerful leaving up to hype of the V12s but the most unreliable and thirsty and the Ford had possibly the better torque curve and used the least fuel.
    Leaving aside the TC saga of the Benetton and the tragic events of that year it was hugely exciting to see the 3 different approaches having so intense competition, but through their inherent differencies and not because FIA dictated that the engines should be identical.
    I chose in particular ’94 because in 92, 93 Renault was in their one league plus all the electronic aids, as was Honda ’89-91. From ’96 the V12 was gone sadly. A close second in my opinion was 2003. BMW and Ferrari had the power (Ferrari had the reliability too) Mercedes and Renault the driveability and also there was Honda, Toyota and Cosworth.

    1. Also to add something why on earth do the new regulations mandate that all the engines must be V6’s?

  19. alonso is correct 100%. f1 means challenge. 2004 reason was best reason, boring but best in facts.

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