‘Verstappen’s not British so it will always be more difficult for him’ – Alonso

2021 Hungarian Grand Prix

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Fernando Alonso says he empathises with the difficulties Max Verstappen faces in going up against Lewis Hamilton in the championship fight.

A frustrated Verstappen reacted angrily today after being asked again about his British Grand Prix collision with his championship rival by F1’s press conference moderator.

Alonso, who succeeded seven-times world title winner Michael Schumacher as champion in the mid-noughties, and went up against Hamilton at McLaren in 2007, said he empathises with Verstappen and the fight he is facing this year.

“I feel probably what the other [is] experiencing now,” said Alonso, “especially Max, because he’s the younger guy fighting with a legend, with a champion. He’s not British so it will be always more difficult for him.”

The Alpine driver said he will be cautious at the start of tomorrow’s Hungarian Grand Prix as he expects more drama involving the championship contenders.

Hamilton and Verstappen collided on the first lap of the British Grand Prix, putting the Red Bull driver out of the race. With Verstappen set to start tomorrow’s behind Hamilton but on softer tyres, Alonso suspects a repeat is on the cards.

Gallery: 2021 Hungarian Grand Prix qualifying day in pictures
Alonso, who will line up ninth on the grid, one place behind team mate Esteban Ocon, predicted “it’s going to be hotter in front of us” at the start of the race.

“We will try to recover places,” said Alonso. “I think we can.”

He expects to gain an immediate advantage from starting on the clean side of the grid. “It’s one of the circuits that it’s more noticeable starting on the clean side so for sure my wish is to finish a little bit higher in the first lap.

“But I think we need to be careful because in front of us I think something could happen tomorrow again because we have Max starting on the red [soft] tyre, Lewis on the yellow [medium].

“We have Checo [Perez], Gasly also behind them. Norris and Leclerc, which are one of the best starters.

“So the first corner is going to be a little bit of action and we need to be clever to stay out of any trouble and benefit from whatever happens in front of us. So we want a clean first lap because maybe there are some positions that come for free.”

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2021 Hungarian Grand Prix

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Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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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58 comments on “‘Verstappen’s not British so it will always be more difficult for him’ – Alonso”

  1. I agree that there’s a big chance of contact at the start. Verstappen should get a good start on the softer tyres and he knows the Mercedes is faster this week so if he doesn’t overtake at the start, he’s losing points to Lewis in the Championship. I think if you offered him the chance to walk away from Hungary with the same gap in points to Lewis as he has now, he’d take it.

  2. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
    31st July 2021, 20:24

    I think the Dutch fan takeover probably mitigates the argument but Max won’t care. The best do what needs to be done. This is a titanic battle and I’m loving it.

    1. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
      31st July 2021, 20:26

      Also I think there’s a bit of 2007 Mclaren sting in there from Fernando but this is totally different

      1. Not really, alonso called their accident a racing incident. Alonso is right and there is absolutely nothing anyone can do about it, if you fight it the press will only make it worse.

    2. The dutch fan takeover has nothing to do with what Alonso said.
      It’s about that as F1 although a global championship as the opinion forming media and many formula one institutions are british there will be always a bias for british drivers, and for anyone the brit inbred media bubble takes up as a flawless wunderkid. Not a new thing, and it wont go away

      1. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
        31st July 2021, 21:07

        Yeah yeah but I just mean Lewis will have as many difficulties through the booing from the Dutch takeover

      2. F1 is a global sport with global ownership, promoted by an American company & governed by a global institute based in France. Hell, the British simply don’t own anything

        Mercedes – German
        RB – Austrian/Thailand
        Alpha Tauri – as above
        Ferrari – Italian
        McLaren – Bahrain/American/Saudi
        Alpha Romeo – Swiss (sauber)
        Williams – American
        Haas – American
        Alpine – french
        Aston Martin – Canadian

        F1 media also comes from all over the world. Just because F1 TV & other countries choose to use Sky’s UKs show does not make anything British. It is their choice, probably because English is spoken in many countries

        What… should the British somehow apologise for this?

        1. @the-edge
          I think you are trying to imply that most of the F1 teams are not British teams just because the ownership is not British. Mercedes, RBR, McLaren, Williams, Aston Martin and Alpine are all legally registered and headquartered in the UK though Alpine do get the PU from Renault Sport factory in Viry.

          1. That they are @tifoso1989 … yet Christian Horner is the only British TP

            So what’s your point?

            Actually what I was saying wa I’m the first paragraphp… F1 is a global sport

          2. Thank you for that enlightenment. We live in a world of globalisation and business is all about profit and nothing to do with ownership.

          3. @the-edge
            The point is even though the aforementioned teams are owned by foreigners, they are still considered British teams. You’ve mentioned team principals. How about the designers, the technical directors and the senior technicians and most of the workforce ?

            Take Mercedes for example which you have labelled as a German team. The thing is that they don’t have anything German apart from the name and a shareholding stake of 33% owned by Daimler, the remaining 66% are equally owned by Toto Wolff and Ineos a British company. They are registered and headquartered in the UK and their senior staff are mainly British : James Allison, James Vowles, Andrew Shovlin, Hywel Thomas, Peter Bonnington… How they are German, I have no idea.

            The rest of the teams, have all British designers and their senior staff are mainly British with some exceptions

            RBR : Adrian Newey
            Mercedes : James Allison
            McLaren : James Key
            Alpine : Pat Fry
            Racing Point : Adrew Green
            Williams : Dave Worner

            F1 is becoming more global, that’s for sure but that doesn’t dismiss its British origins and the influence Britain has on the sport. Liberty which is an American company have bought the sport from CVC Capital Partners which is a company headquartered in London and Luxembourg who themselves bought it from Bernie Ecclestone.

    3. @rdotquestionmark
      It’s more about the majority of the press being British so you get bombarded with the same questions all the time. If Horner hadn’t been whining about it non-stop maybe it wouldn’t have been such an issue though.

      I think Max has handled it pretty well so far, he could have done something stupid in qualifying today but he just sat back and let Hamilton dig his hole a little deeper.

      1. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
        31st July 2021, 20:56

        Yeah I get that. But it’s surely levelled out somewhat by the fact Lewis is going to be booed all year. I think Lewis will be more the pantomime villain overall.

        1. Yeah I get that. But it’s surely levelled out somewhat by the fact Lewis is going to be booed all year. I think Lewis will be more the pantomime villain overall.

          Probably true, but that’s for the Orange Army which seems to be the most vocal one over the stands. However Alonso clearly referred to the press as he identifies with Max’s situation of fighting hard a British driver for the championship which despite being internationally covered at the same time it’s by a bigger presence of British media rather than their home media, and we all know that in any sports the press sometimes may even go close to the point of harassment, as experienced by Rosberg in 2016. But, of course the really tough drivers must be ready for both situations: booing from the crowd and two-faced questions by the media.

      2. @George

        It’s more about the majority of the press being British so you get bombarded with the same questions all the time.

        I really don’t think there’s a nationality connection there at all. From what I can tell, Verstappen gets asked much the same stuff in his Dutch sessions as he does in the English-language ones.

        I do agree the questioning drivers face can be repetitive, especially when there’s a major focus of attention like the Silverstone crash. However I think much of this comes from the fact drivers will typically speak to a series of different television channels in succession, each of which might ask two or three questions, which often tend to be very similar.

        In this case – as noted in the article – there’s the added point that after the crash Verstappen wasn’t available to speak to the media prior to last Thursday.

        If Horner hadn’t been whining about it non-stop maybe it wouldn’t have been such an issue though.

        I do agree a lot of the post-Silverstone stuff was driven by Red Bull. Which is inevitable, really, as they were the aggrieved party.

      3. lewis did nothing wrong…so the digged a whole even deeper part of your comment makes no sense.

        1. I didn’t want to point that out… Max let Hamilton dig his hole a little deeper in qualifying by letting him win pole. OK. Whatever. I’ve stopped expecting even an elementary level of logic in these kind of comments.

          1. @david-br
            I meant the perception of Hamilton as playing dirty among the fans. He could have avoided that by making it a straight shootout on pace but he decided to play games, so that’s on him.

  3. Verstappen is not British so it will be more difficult for him…

    Finally somebody said it! FOM Media (most of them British, and sadly its the world feed…) are very biased favoring British drivers, sometimes even seem to coordinate efforts attacking other foreign drivers when it will give a position of advantage to the local ones.

    1. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
      31st July 2021, 21:08

      I just hope I love long enough to witness a none British Champion one day

      1. What! Were you born in 2017?

        Reply moderated
      2. You must be very young.

        1. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
          31st July 2021, 22:00

          I’m only 6

    2. feels kinda racist if that would really matter, if he’s british or not.

      1. Yep, they should kneel for max.
        Something for lewis to organize

      2. @cdfemke
        White v. white is not interesting for the “stop the hate” turb.

      3. I suspect you actually mean xenophobic as opposed to racist. They are not the same thing

    3. Most teams are based on the UK, most staff is British, but the overwhelming problem is that almost all the money comes from the British audience and it’s media.

      1. I’m not British and I don’t understand why this is a “problem.” Is this in any way hindering non-Britons from succeeding as anythjng from the shop clerk to the driver and team principals in the sport, aside from the need to work in the lingua franca? I’ve never heard of Britons in F1 discriminating against Germans or whoever in the sport. To me this is the greatest thing about F1. It’s fluidly international.

        If it’s a question of what the fans or media think, that’s not an interesting question to me, unless you are trying to figure out who has the upper hand in the keyboard wars. And nowadays celebrities can appeal to fans through social media so who really cares what bbcf1 wrote today about Ocon or Vettel. The top drivers probably have more social media followers than the daily readers of most “news” outlets

      2. I’m not from Great Britain but the coverage that I find more easily to follow is British or British-related anyway as I don’t have TV in my room but I do have PC, laptop and smartphone, and most of the post-race commentary and forums with news and stats are British on their own so… We kinda of get used to the way the tea drinkers see the world but still being aware to find the flaws on their view too.

    4. I get sky sports feed in my country and its just so biased towards british drivers, I liked it when it was channel 4 feed or when star sports had their own commentators years ago.

      Reply moderated
  4. @nullapax You mean Rosberg, Vettel, Räikkönen, Alonso and Shumacher are not British? Well, I’ll be darned. Learn something new every day!

    }

    1. Think you’ve replied to the wrong person

  5. I’m not entirely sure what he (Alonso) means, I suppose there’s the language barrier, but it’s not stopped anyone else…

    The British Press are anti-success and try to tear anyone and everyone down to sell news. Hamilton gets no special favors – particularly as a black sportsman. The reason he gets praise is because he keeps on winning – but look at recent events for evidence of how the nation turns when people stop winning… The British media stinks, I haven’t bought it for years and rely independent on websites such as this for my news, as they’re ultimately more reliable. Thank you Keith.

    1. Yup the stories about British press are not good. A quick look at how they threat celebrities and their own kingdom says enough.

  6. Lewis Hamilton. British when he is winning… And… You know what, when he’s losing! Ha.

    Being British certainly didn’t help Lewis in 2007 or 2008.

    1. @david-beau Not driving a red car was the biggest problem.

      1. Being British certainly didn’t help Lewis in 2007 or 2008.

        But it did help him a lot in 2016 when British media tried to portray Rosberg as weak or coward, even though the bid ultimately failed and Lewis’ most recent competitive team-mate beat him.

        Not driving a red car was the biggest problem.

        Wow, this instance of “when Lewis wins is the driver, when Lewis loses is the car” just had gone over the edge now. Against Max this year is already pushing it but saying that about two of the most tightly balanced championship fights of recent F1 history (2007 and 2008) it is alarmingly skewed. Ferrari and McLaren were closely matched on both years, with Ferrari just sligthly ahead but the Scuderia was really faster in not much more than half of the tracks, and the others usually Hamilton or Alonso easily drove to win them all. Not a gap that a spectacular driver like Fernando or Lewis couldn’t be able to overcome at all, so stop making LH an object of pity. The fact that he almost was WDC and actually did it in the next year on both occasions by just a single point explains it very well, an evidence of a close challenge too difficult to contest.
        Lewis and Fernando lost in 2007 by just one point mostly to big mistakes they both made near end of the season, and in fact I consider that one as Fernando’s most erratic year in Formula 1. He made less mistakes (especially when weighed on poinst cost) in almost all or even the totality of his other F1 seasons, so it’d be a sore loser mentality to put the blame of that on the rival’s car. But on the next seasons he entered a steadily improvement route since then, becoming an even more reliable driver, and it paid off with his sensational charges for wins, podiums and near misses of WDCs driving for considerably weaker cars.
        Of couse Lewis is also capable of things that look like miracles when driving a car strong enough but for that exact reason you shouldn’t enter this Toto mind mode of talking up the opposition every time regardless of the context, unless you give me a clear and well elaborated explanation of why this time it might not be the case. I’ve seen plenty of times all those Hammy fans trying to bend facts about their rivals trying to depict them as too strong and too evil, paradoxically the object of contempt and sheer fear at the same time, just for him to easily come out as the hero and the nice guy. So I’d be surprised to see anything from it other than a fairy tail.

        1. @rodewulf Actually I meant driving a red car in 2007 and especially 2008 meant he didn’t get special FIA assistance. I was just pointing out it wasn’t anything to do with nationality. The Ferrari and McLaren cars were indeed very closely matched. And Alonso and Hamilton were both way superior to the Ferrari drivers.

          1. RealisticGuy
            1st August 2021, 6:34

            Really, on pure racing kimi was better than both Alonso and Hamilton.

          2. RealisticGuy
            1st August 2021, 6:35

            McLaren was better car that season. They lost because they fought each other

          3. McLaren in 2007 and 2008 shouldn’t even be in contention for the title since it’s been designed on the basis of the whole technical details stolen from its main competitor, the red cars. Those two championships were a complete and utter joke, totally rigged and set set up as the first black british driver could win them even if it shouldn’t…this is what Alonso is pointing out, the british mafia ruling F1 from the early ’60s…

          4. McLaren was better car that season. They lost because they fought each other

            McLaren in 2007 and 2008 shouldn’t even be in contention for the title since it’s been designed on the basis of the whole technical details stolen from its main competitor, the red cars.

            The only certain thing is that it was very close.

            And Alonso and Hamilton were both way superior to the Ferrari drivers.

            For the reasons I pointed out earlier, I don’t think they were that much superior overall in 2007. Fernando learned his lesson, and Lewis also but to a lesser extent, on how being the outright fastest does not make a sure thing for the title. Kimi leapfrogged them that season in a stealthy way that is striking worthy of praise. After that Fernando has been doing this sort of stuff, relentless haunting of his rivals through consistent expertise and not relying chiefly on irregular springs of brilliance ever since.

    2. Best paid driver for no reason then. He was picked up by Mclaren-Mercedes at age 13 because he was the British hope. C.R.E.A.M.

  7. It’s pretty much guaranteed that max will do what Hamilton did to him, only unknown is if Max’s car will make it to the end. Can see an unusual podium tomorrow.

    1. if max does,his penalty will be alot harsher,because he will have done it deliberately…lewis did not.
      so if he makes deliberate contact,forcing lewis to crash out,he could very well get a race ban.

    2. Nah. Verstappen is a professional with a job to do not a hooligan in the stands.

    3. Somchai Watsaboon
      1st August 2021, 2:55

      As Toto said, when he was asked what he thought of Lewis stating that he would do the same thing again when being in the same position as in Silverstone, then Lewis will get the same 10 seconds again. Guess that is the penalty then also for Ver

      Reply moderated
  8. Sam Donaldson, ABC News
    1st August 2021, 1:38

    This is bad journalism…You can’t just mention this tiny bit about “being British” and other stuff and that Alonso said and then go on and not address how it relates to this article. This website used to be good. Now it reads like the other bad ones….

    1. Relax, Keith does like to play when the topic is the things that Alonso says. Sometimes it’s annoying but eventually you get used to it.

  9. What kind of weird nationalist claim is that? Everything’s easier for British people? I wonder what Hamilton thinks about that…

    It definitely needs a please explain from someone.

    1. @skipgamer Most of the press (for which the British has the biggest/most influential representation) did actually behave like a group of fans when Hamilton was fighting against Rosberg for the WDC in 2016. Many of them claimed that Nico was in the challenge just because of luck against mighty Lewis (partially false and exaggerated).
      Of couse not everything Lewis or another Briton does in Formula 1 is well-regarded by the whole paddock or the fans, far from it, but he generally had an easier time with the journalists than many of his rivals. Suzuka 2016 just proves the point, when one event of him refusing to talk to the press because of some unfavourable ones is contrasted with one full year of underestimation and sometimes even nearly harassment for Nico (and I’m not implying that he was an innocent guy or that he was more talented than Lewis, of course it’s the other way around, but Rosberg just had the competence to take the title fight with one of the better drivers in the history of the sport and win it, sticking to his guns despite not being a genius – so this guy deserved some recognition and certainly a better treatment from the media, even if being rightfully ranked below Hamilton as a driver).
      Nor Lewis neither Nico were innocents on those endless mind games of 2016, but the British media and other influenced ones portrayed it like if Nico was the villain and Lewis was the saint or hero. That’s nothing new, not the first time that it happened and not the last either, as we see the same pattern now with Max. Some out there do unjustly make of Lewis a villain too, but where are those in the specialised press?If the crowd on the stands seems skewed towards Max, the media seems skewed towards Lewis, given the reach of power that both have.

  10. Well, perhaps Alonso reads too much racefans.

  11. Lopes da Silva
    1st August 2021, 8:50

    It has been like this since Lauda and Piquet, so nothing new.

    1. I know, its been around forever. Deeply embedded in the culture. Most of the time its ok, but when you get a close competition it becomes annoying as it starts to influence the game rather than the athletes determining what happens. I think Lewis fits right in there and does apply the same when put under pressure. Personally I dont like it, but some athletes are this way and feel you are also allowed to go for any means to try to destabilise your opponent. Horner does it as well, so maybe its something cultural whereas others regard it childish and a sign of not being able to achieve something on own strength alone.

  12. Fernando still trying to justify getting beaten by a rookie team mate in 2007.

    Of course having a Daddy who was an F1 driver helps and being white too.

    If you have the talent, ultimately, that’s it.

  13. For those asking why Fernando said those comments about the British press, this is why. For most of us, we come from a country where F1 is barely covered locally, so we rely on foreign media. Given that English is the most popular language globally, most people will without a doubt go to BBC/SKY for their F1 news. The story they report becomes gospel quite quickly for those who do not recognise the bias that the British media has towards its drivers. Now this does not mean to say it’s wrong, the Spanish media glorifies Fernando, the Italians glorify Ferrari and the Germans made a hero out of Seb and Schumi. They are all guilty of the same “crimes” if you wish. However, given the power of the British media, the only widespread narrative that will survive is that reported by BBC/SKY as a result of their popularity. This has been the story since Piquet vs Mansell. The British media painted Piquet as the villain when in truth Mansell was just as bad as Piquet in the games they played. It’s why you’ll hear that Piquet was a “lucky” or “undeserving” champion. You can be lucky, but it’s not the only thing that matters. You have to do the job of placing yourself in a position to capitalise should others fail, which is what Nelson did. Later on, Michael was vilified for being Hill’s rival, Fernando was vilified for being Hamilton’s rival and the same thing happened to Nico and Sebastian against Lewis. It’s time the truth was told. This siege mentality of “us” vs “them” in the British media has ruined many a reputation and career, and unjustly so.

    Reply moderated
  14. But Alonso does love British press, specially sky sports:

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=EHXu876EZ2c

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