Departing Alonso’s points deficit to Ocon is no reflection of his performance

2022 F1 team mate battles: Alonso vs Ocon

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In a career of soon-to-be-record-breaking longevity, Fernando Alonso has rarely experienced being out-scored by a team mate.

Even during the infamous season he shared a team with Lewis Hamilton, the pair ended the year tied on points, Alonso trailing in the standings because his team mate had scored more second-place finishes. Only Jenson Button can lay claim to having out-scored Alonso over a season, doing so in 2015 when the pair shared the woefully slow and unreliable McLaren-Honda MP4-30.

Is Esteban Ocon about to join Button on that short list? After the first 13 races of 2022 it’s a clear possibility. Ocon, who finished just seven points behind Alonso last year, leads him by 17 at this stage.

This has prompted some to suggest 41-year-old Alonso’s talents are waning. Could it even suggest his Alpine team wasn’t troubled at the idea of letting him slip off to rivals Aston Martin next year? But this would be a complete mis-reading of his season to date. Alonso’s performances have been more than up to scratch, he just hasn’t had the rub of the green – and that’s seldom been down to him.

Technical trouble wrecked Alonso’s qualifying run in Melbourne
Both Alpine drivers have had reliability problems, but some of Alonso’s have been spectacularly ill-timed. Such as the fault which struck while he was threatening to put his A522 on the front row in Melbourne, or the glitch that prevented him starting the sprint race in Austria, leaving him last on the grid for the grand prix.

Alonso has always been a driver whose particular strengths lie on race day. That’s not to say he habitually under-performs over a single flying lap, as his comfortable 8-4 lead over Ocon on Saturdays shows (most strikingly demonstrated by his remarkable lap to bag a front-row start in Canada).

Alonso vs Ocon: Race by race


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Esteban Ocon, Fernando Alonso, Alpine, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2022
Alonso retired after winning Jeddah scrap with Ocon
But even in his fifth decade Alonso’s race pace is as relentless as ever and his wheel-to-wheel combat just as tenacious. His drive in Jeddah was a fine demonstration of this: After prevailing in a tough scrap with Ocon, Alonso was on course to bag the lion’s share of the team’s points, then was sidelined by technical trouble.

Too much of this has left him on the wrong side of the points divide at Alpine. But it says a lot that he leads on two of the other metrics, and retirements largely account for the reason he trails Ocon 6-4 in terms of which driver has finished ahead on Sundays.

None of this detracts from Ocon’s solid performance in the other Alpine. At the same time, it wouldn’t be fair to Alonso to call the points difference between the two an accurate reflection of how well they’ve performed, or an indication that his best days are behind him.

Alonso vs Ocon: Results summary

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Alonso vs Ocon: Lap times

Unrepresentative comparisons omitted. Negative value: Alonso was faster; Positive value: Ocon was faster

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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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39 comments on “Departing Alonso’s points deficit to Ocon is no reflection of his performance”

  1. Wasn’t Ocon considered “beaten” by Perez in 2018 by Racefans and was even ranked lower while he was ahead of Perez in every other department except the points when he had more DNFs ?

    This just reflects how much driver popularity has an effect on even high level F1 journalism

    1. Depends on how you would compare teammates. In 2018 many of Ocon’s points were lost due to self inflicted collisions plus the contact with Verstappen in brazil while unlapping himself didn’t help. Perez kept it cleaner and brought home the points, all while driving without a salary for half a season I believe. This year, Alonso has lost points due to mechanical faults and most likely would be ahead if his car had been more reliable.

    2. DNF’s suck but the one with the most points is king, no matter how they get there.

      1. Also would say no, in a “who’s the best driver”, “which driver should be dropped” comparison it’s paramount to go look and correct for bad luck.

      2. Some years ago nasr was dropped despite scoring more points, as points came in an exceptional circumstance and he had been outperformed the rest of the season.

        1. @esploratore1 You’d picked the absolute wrong example. Nasr had demolished Ericsson in every parameter. Nasr was dropped because he was bringing much less money that’s all

  2. I’ve said several times that Alonso still has what it takes given a winning car his poor choices and hard-line attitude has not helped him but he still won two WDCs. Put Alonso or Hamilton for that matter into a Redbull and I think there would be a lot of orange tears.

    1. Wouldn’t know why. Bring it. Should make for some good racing.

    2. “his poor choices and hard-line attitude has not helped him”

      @johnrkh I think this may have been his biggest obstacle trying to win more in F1. I only wonder if the above is the cause of him moving to Aston Martin, which appears not be a faster car than Alpine’s?

    3. Alonso is without question the best driver to debut in the early 2000s, but he is also very good at emphasising his own contribution to good results and has a habit of pretending the cars are less competitive than they are.

      Alonso didn’t just have good cars in 2005 and 2006, after all. The 2007 Mclaren should have won a title, and the 2010 Ferrari could have as well, even if the Red Bull was probably the better package. The 2012 season was odd, but the Ferrari did give Alonso a genuine chance.

      That said, most champions also have seasons in which they lost a title battle they were at some point genuinely involved in. It’s not a big mark against them. Most drivers are never in a title battle at all.

  3. I initially didn’t get the fifth-decade reference as Alonso hasn’t raced in F1 this long until I realized the reference is age-related.

    1. Yes. I discovered there’s a website dedicated to the oldest competitors in a sport, and yes, they have a section devoted to the 8 50+ F1 drivers. For some reason they’ve overlooked Fernando … or maybe they suspect he’s not quite 50. Of those 8 only one of them, Luigi Fagioli, actually won a race when 50+. He is credited with being the oldest winner of an F1 race. Retirements are a big problem at this age, with half of them failing to complete the race.

      1. Probably overlooked him as he’s 40+ not 50+…

  4. “To finish 8th, first you must finish”
    – Abraham Lincoln

    1. Abe Lincoln, the Nascar years. Classic Abe.

  5. These days the cars are so complex that you probably can’t really say what influence, if any, a driver has on technical issues. As it seems, Alonso has just had the misfortune of having technical and strategic problems in races where he might otherwise have scored good points.

    He still has an edge over Ocon, but to the latter’s credit, the difference isn’t big. At the same time, when Schumacher was Alonso’s age he couldn’t really keep up with Rosberg, so in some ways Ocon could perhaps be argued to still be lacking that bit of pace we see in guys of his generation like Verstappen, Leclerc and Norris.

    1. Good observation.

    2. Motorsport racing drivers wouldn’t get much slower when they start ageing than they were younger. So many ageing drivers still freaking fast even they are 40-50ish. They are Loeb, Peterhansel, Sainz Sr., Lewis Hamilton, Alonso, Scot Dixon, Ogier, Will Power, Jenson Button, and all many great drivers. These drivers survive competing through generational competitions because their bars are at the very top of all time benchmark. Only overrated drivers would never have this longevity because competitions are getting stiffer, and they are less adaptable to the changing of regulations. When competition getting stiffer, ageing overrated drivers are already max-out below w/e competitions they compete within. OTOH, ageing great drivers also already max-out. However, they are max-out in level or above w/e competitions they compete within, hence why ageing great drivers survive to compete through generational competitions. Evolution says “Who doesn’t adapt would perish”.

      1. How can you put hamilton in this conversation? He’s nowhere near 40 yet!

      2. He’s barely the age schumacher retired the first time and he was also still very quick.

  6. Enjoying these mid-season rankings, thanks.

    One suggestion: For some reason, I find the graph at the start of the “race by race” section incredibly hard to decipher. I know it should be easy to figure out that the driver mentioned on the left finished ahead and the green check mark is the one you’re looking for, but I would much prefer something like finishing positions from both drivers (in qualifying and the race) with the one ahead marked with a green background and the one behind in red (i.e. similar to tables in Wikipedia).

  7. Hello,
    What are your opinions on Alan Permane? There is always some kind of scandals at the team, management changes (Eric Boullier, Alan Prost, Fred Vasseur, Cyril, Marcin, etc.), Crashgate, etc. but he always stayed there. Over 30 years with the same team. Awesome man! I love this man! :D

  8. As Nando tends to get even better over the course of a season, I don’t believe a 17 points lead means that he can’t catch up to Ocon!

    1. Yes, it’s very possible, it requires even reliability though.

  9. I know it bodes well to his godly aura to remark he got outscored only once and all but, to mention Hamilton’s tie up and miss the glorious Tarso Marques back in 2001 isn’t cool. Nandito ended behind him with three races to spare. If points had been awarded, it would be 2×1, let the record show.

    That said, I’m more impressed by his form present season than last one’s. I’m confident he’s on the verge of pulling a cracking result soon enough. For Ocon, he’d better step up, because he is seeming too bureaucratic this time around. The risk of being left to lead Alpine after a defeat won’t do him any good.

      1. Yeah, change your source, because it is evidently filled incorrectly.

    1. someone or something
      13th August 2022, 17:04

      You mean the glorious Tarso Marques, whom Alonso lapped quite regularly?
      Marques’ 9th place finishes mean exactly one thing: that he finished dead last in a couple of races with high attrition (while Alonso didn’t see the flag due to car issues, that regularly plagued that generation of cars in general, and the Minardi in particular). What it doesn’t mean: that Marques was by any means even remotely in the same ballpark as the talent Alonso was already demonstrating back then. The best Marques could usually hope for, was the Minardi’s pace being too slow for even Alonso to drag it higher than 19th place, so that his own 20th place didn’t look that bad by comparison.

      1. And who said Marques was in the same league?
        It doesn’t hurt to acknowledge he ended tied up.

        1. someone or something
          14th August 2022, 0:08

          And who said Marques was in the same league?

          That was implied by the fact that you think that:

          It doesn’t hurt to acknowledge he ended tied up.

          And my point is, it does “hurt”, in the sense that it means elevating a completely irrelevant fact, that, as you appear to agree, has nothing to do with the question at hand, to something worthy of a mention. But it simply isn’t. Points were not a realistic prospect for Minardi back then, and the drivers’ respective best results had absolutely nothing to do with their performance, but with how many other cars finished the races where Alonso or Marques reached the flag.
          You could’ve fielded Lewis Hamilton against Nikita Mazepin in that year’s Minardi (never mind the fact that they were too young back then), and Mazepin might’ve had a 99% chance of ending tied up, and a 50:50 chance of ending the season “ahead” of Hamilton by virtue of a random result here or there that doesn’t reflect how well or Hamilton really drove.
          The idea that Alonso’s record is in some way tarnished because he drove a season in a woefully uncompetitive team, is nonsensical.

          1. Ok, you seem really upset about this. I take your are from the Cult of Nando, hence your implications are heavily clouded. So, there isn’t much left to say apart from there is nothing to tarnish. It is a statistic fact, just as RF presents every time. 2001 season should be irrelevant, yes, though it gains poise when there is this nonsensical over praise about him where every little thing is grounds for awe, when his counterparties, i.e, the other 1st tier drivers, do not get the same slack.

          2. someone or something
            14th August 2022, 23:03

            Sounds to me like you’re the one with a chip on your shoulder here. Pointing out that what you’re saying is grounds for being part of a ‘cult’. Do you ever stop and listen to yourself?
            Probably not, because then you’d probably end up thinking “This me guy, he is a bit of a t-roll, isn’t he?”
            And with that I withdraw, annoyed at myself for trying to talk sense with someone who wants anything but that, for the n-th time …

          3. someone or something
            14th August 2022, 23:07

            Pointing out that what you’re saying is grounds for being part of a ‘cult’.

            Pointing out that what you’re saying is incongruous is grounds for being part of a ‘cult’.

            Yeah, that sentence needs more work than that, but I’m not wasting any more effort on it.

          4. Yeah, I think I plucked a nerve alright.

            There is nothing incongruous in stating a statistic fact and pointing it was left out. This should end this conversation at its crib instead of fuelling annoyances that’d be better described as frustrations.

            Bonus: the cult of Nando is formed by those who always comes with puff pieces, talking anything down so he may rise, or come advocating on his behalf for his misdoings or, better yet, come salty towards any comment that isn’t overrating him. Sounds familiar? Talk about a chip…

            Good riddance.

  10. All drivers know their first biggest rival is their teammate and two world championships is only average these days, especially as Alonso has been in the sport so long. The facts speak for themselves.
    Alonso is big hype like Vettel, so Larry Stroll is willing to pay the salary to have him at AM. By the time AM reach any level of success FA will be retired.

  11. “Departing Alonso’s points deficit to Ocon is no reflection of his performance”

    Oh, yes it is.

    Alonso has many followers who praises his driving. But he is not complete. Ever since Renault in 2005 and 2006 he has had multiple possibilities to excel but has failed in all occasions.

    Ferrari, Renault again, McLaran again, Alpine.

    1. Doesn’t make sense, most of these cars couldn’t see a championship chance with a telescope and even the 2010 and 2012 ferraris were significantly down on performance compared to red bull, he drove better in those seasons than vettel did in 2018 with a ferrari that could match merc.

    2. Mclaren 2007 yes, would’ve been enough to not spin in fuji on the wet if I recall to win.

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