Why De la Rosa is convinced Alonso remains one of F1’s top three talents at 41

2022 F1 season

Posted on

| Written by

Fernando Alonso’s age will not diminish his drive to success when he joins Aston Martin next season, says Pedro de la Rosa.

The double world champion will depart from Alpine at the end of 2022 and move to Silverstone to join Aston Martin. His friend and former colleague De la Rosa has recently also joined the team as a brand ambassador. The pair previously worked together at Jaguar, McLaren and Ferrari.

Asked by RaceFans how important their strong working history would be for their efforts to help bring Aston Martin to the front of the field, De la Rosa said that there will be many familiar faces for Alonso when he joins the team after the end of the season.

“I haven’t spoken with Fernando that much, since [joining Aston Martin],” said De la Rosa. “But I’m very excited, he knows that.

Pedro de la Rosa, Fernando Alonso, Jaguar, 2022
The pair worked together when Alonso tested for Jaguar in 2002
“To an extent, I think he’s also happy that I’m in the team. I think that if I’m here, it’s also because of him. There’s nothing better for a person, for an ex-driver like myself, than when you turn up [and] there are many people that have worked with you in the past. There’s nothing better than to feel that those people, that know you better than anyone, want you back.

“This is a feeling I’ve had here, but not because of Fernando – there’s many other guys I’ve worked with in the Formula 1 paddock in the past 15 years that are inside Aston Martin in every department. So it makes me extremely proud that Aston Martin has called me and that they want me in the team, mainly because I have worked with these guys, with these people, and Fernando is one of them of course.”

Alonso will join Aston Martin on a multi-year contract beginning in the 2023 F1 season, at the age of 41 – the same age De la Rosa was during his final season in F1 with HRT back in 2012. Despite Alonso joining a new team at an age that is rarely reached by active drivers, De la Rosa has no doubt he remains one of F1’s elite drivers.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

“I’ve always said there are possibly three drivers that are special in Formula 1,” he said. “I won’t say which names – I’m pretty sure you will know most of them, it’s not that difficult – but Fernando has always been there.

“I’ve always said that Fernando is one of the best drivers in the history of Formula 1. When I said this a few years ago, everyone thought I was crazy – but I’m still crazy because I think he’s unique. He’s fully motivated, which is also a very, very, very important detail in the life of a Formula 1 driver, especially when you get to 40 years old. And I’ve been there before – I’ve been there at 40 as well, so I know a bit. That’s why I think Fernando arrives in the best of his talent and his peak of performance.”

‘If you’re as competitive as him, you won’t have problems’
Alonso’s long history in Formula 1 has seen him endure tumultuous times with various teams, notably at McLaren in 2007, which led to his departure from the team. After a stint at Ferrari he surprisingly returned to join McLaren-Honda, where he never spared the Japanese manufacturer’s blushes regarding the shortcomings of their early V6 hybrid turbo power units.

However De la Rosa believes Alonso is a strong team player, as long as he perceives that those around him are as highly motivated to succeed as he is.

“I don’t think that Fernando is a difficult guy to handle,” De la Rosa said. “He’s just very genuine, very honest. The fact that English is not his native tongue sometimes makes him a bit harsh when he tries to describe things, but he’s very honest.

“What he tells you is what he feels about the car, about the team, about how to be competitive. So as long as you always tell him exactly what’s going on and what is the truth, you will never have a problem with him.

“But the moment you try to hide information or he feels that you are trying to keep some information aside, you will have problems. He’s just a very competitive individual – that’s the reality. If you are as competitive as him, you won’t have any problem with Fernando.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2022 F1 season

Browse all 2022 F1 season articles

Author information

Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

23 comments on “Why De la Rosa is convinced Alonso remains one of F1’s top three talents at 41”

  1. No surprise from Pedro as he has always functioned as Fernando’s PA.

    It is probably true though. Verstappen and Hamilton are in a league of their own. But if Alonso were driving a Red Bull, Ferrari or Mercedes I think he’d be up there too. It’s a shame he has such an ugly character that no top team wants to be associated with him anymore.

    1. I’m not sure his character has much to do with it @spafrancorchamps. Vettel and Ricciardo have lovely personalities, they’re still off the grid next year. I tend to think Alonso has joined teams for the right reasons and when he’s left they’ve been in the same place for years after. The dynamic of top teams have always focused on one superstar – once Hamilton was set at Mercedes and RB and SF set up junior programmes there was very little way in once you’d been out.

    2. I was someone very critical of Alonso’s behaviour in 2007 – but he would have been fine under Toto.

      It would have been great to have him at Ferrari when they finally got a good care in 2017/18 as he’d have given Hamilton a bigger run for his money.

      Puzling how anyone puts him in a Top 5. He, Lewis and Max are clearly miles above the standard of the rest

    3. “Ugly character,” @spafrancorchamps? Just because he doesn’t mince his words? I’d have him in my team any day. One of the best ever F1 competitors. A pure no-bull racer who doesn’t put frills on it.

  2. Naturally it’s totally subjective but I’d argue Alonso is still top 5 at the very least. Max is supreme, Lewis’ record is incredible although errors are creeping in. Charles is rapid but there are still mistakes and the team need to help better. Charles in Alonso’s Ferrari team for 2012/3 would’ve been a lot closer to the title this year than they were. Lando looks great but still is too jovial for me in the wet. Maybe that’s a team radio perception issue but there’s improvement there for him. Russell, like Lando, needs to prove himself consistently at the highest level.

    Alonso’s issue this year has been his final q run. It’s lost him a few places on weekends where he should be higher. But he’s still capable of Canada quali results. I’d have him fighting Charles for top 3 with a bit of a gap to the next group.

    1. It’s not really about his Q3 performance, because most of the times he is already showing his maximum pace in Q2.

      Let’s take a look at some stats, average improvement between Q2 and Q3, all season, dry sessions only:

      – LEC 0,71% (14 times, median: 0,65%, best: Spain 1,52%, worst: Belgium 0,00%)
      – VER 0,50% (14 times, median: 0,59%, best: Italy 1,18%, worst: Hungary -1,44%)
      – SAI 0,47% (13 times, median: 0,56%, best: Japan 1,20%, worst: Australia -1,20%)
      – PER 0,40% (12 times, median: 0,32%, best: France 0,85%, worst: Bahrain 0,10%)
      – BOT 0,33% (5 times, median: 0,31%, best: Spain 0,56%, worst: Bahrain 0,17%)
      – average 0,27%
      – RUS 0,20% (13 times, median: 0,25%, best: Hungary 0,99%, worst: Bahrain -1,06%)
      – HAM 0,20% (12 times, median: 0,21%, best: Netherlands 0,60%, worst: Bahrain -0,21%)
      – OCO 0,16% (7 times, median: 0,25%, best: Saudi Arabia 0,58%, worst: Monaco -0,70%)
      – NOR 0,14% (9 times, median: 0,30%, best: France 0,80%, worst: Japan -0,59%)
      – MSC 0,09% (3 times, median: 0,08%, best: Austria 0,21%, worst: Netherlands -0,03%)
      – VET 0,04% (3 times, median: 0,11%, best: Azerbaijan 0,17%, worst: Monaco -0,16%)
      – ALO 0,04% (9 times, median: 0,09%, best: Monaco 0,61%, worst: Bahrain: -0,63%)
      – RIC -0,05% (4 times, median: -0,05%, best: Australia 0,12%, worst: Hungary -0,23%)
      – MAG -0,06% (4 times, median: -0,01%, best: Spain 0,16%, worst: Bahrain -0,38%)
      – GAS -0,11% (5 times, median: 0,18%, best: Miami 0,49%, worst: Bahrain -0,77%)
      – ALB -0,15% (1 time, Belgium)
      – TSU -0,27% (4 times, median: 0,09%, best: Azerbaijan 0,31%, worst: Netherlands -1,58%)
      – STR -0,76% (1 time, Miami)

      I think we can clearly see similarities between ALO and drivers that have to go full beans to get through into Q3, like Vettel, early season Magnussen, Schumacher and Ricciardo. There is no situation like with top2 teams, who always hides their pace just a little bit more in Q2, same with Mercedes duo + Ocon + Norris (who always manages to find just a bit more in Q3).

      This means ALO doesn’t have problems with Q3 performance, he simply puts everything he has in Q2 – and then cannot have even more in Q3, as he already showed maximum pace available.

      Not to mention he has 4th worse progression between free practises and best qualifying laptime, at 0,87%.

      Data don’t lie, unlike Fernando himself.

      1. @hje Firstly, I’m making the claims not Alonso so I’m not sure calling him a lier benefits anyone here.

        Thank you for your analysis – I understand it backs up the points you make and to an extent I agree. But there must be additional context. From it one could infer Alonso’s best session was Monaco when he was in the wall at Mirabeau, likewise other drivers may have been on a lap prior to the red flag.

        It also lacks the context of how many runs a driver was on and tyre life and condition which is vital for peripheral q3 teams like Alpine. For example it would favour Ocon improving his q3 time over q2 but not recognise that he has been there only 8 times to Alonso’s 15. Alonso is prioritising the correct session.

        The data, understandably, omits wet running. But this does Alonso a disservice to his best qualifying in years in Canada. Bottas is also very highly rated due to an early season flurry, having made q3 once in the past 12 races.

        It’s not that I don’t think these stats are valuable, but if someone is blocked on their only q3 new tyre run and used an old set on the first then the percentage move is fairly moot.

        With all this said I agree that on the days when the car is a genuine top 8 contender Ocon tends to extract more one lap performance – but it’s rare and a 10-8 qualifying advantage shows Alonso gets more use out of the package on a Saturday.

        1. 10-8 qualifying advantage shows Alonso gets more use out of the package on a Saturday.

          No, it’s not showing anything, because battle which is so close is very sensitive to any kind of non-driver related circumstnaces. Actually OCO was suffering from bad luck on saturday, which usually compromised his sundays. Let’s compare all 18 qualifying sessions, and let’s attempt to determine the “corrected” results.

          Bahrain: ALO 1:0 OCO – OCO had to run old spec sidepods, due to newer sidepod blowing up by itself in FP1, although I still think it is a valid point for ALO.

          Saudi Arabia: ALO 1:1 OCO – valid point for OCO, best of the rest – beating even Russell in a struggling Mercedes.

          Australia: ALO 1:2 OCO – ALO had upgraded floor for this weekend, and fresh engine – and being consistently faster, however his Q3 runs were interrupted by hydraulics leak. Not-so-valid point for OCO, so I’m not counting it there. Virtual ALO 2:1 OCO

          Imola: ALO 2:2 OCO – this time Ocon had reliability issues, which sent him to the back of the grid. He couldn’t improve his laptime when track was drying up, because his gearbox jammed. We cannot really predict who would win this battle, so no virtual points scored there. Still virtual ALO 2:1 OCO

          Miami: ALO 3:2 OCO – Ocon didn’t even participate in qualis, due to crash in FP3, requiring replacing survival cell. We couldn’t really predict who would win this battle, so no virtual points scored there. Still virtual ALO 2:1 OCO

          Spain: ALO 3:3 OCO – and I’m counting it as valid point for OCO. Both Alpine drivers got only one timed lap in Q1 (people remember ALO suffered from miscommunication in final minutes of Q1, and missed his optimal window for putting a lap which would give him an easy Q2 appearance, but people forget that OCO wasn’t even sent out on track!), and OCO got quicker in that lap. Virtual ALO 2:2 OCO

          Monaco: ALO 4:3 OCO – ALO was flying during free practises compared to OCO, having fresh PU after Spain, but OCO beat him either in Q1 and Q2. ALO could save one more fresh set of tyres for Q3, which OCO couldn’t have – and he had to set his first laptime on used softs, while ALO got fresh tyres. OCO put fresh softs for second run, and improved/matched ALO first sector from his first run, only to get stopped by red flags. ALO was slower by 0.4s, so he couldn’t improve, and later crashed by himself. Virtual ALO 2:3 OCO

          Azerbaijan: ALO 5:3 OCO – OCO was quicker in Q1, and was on a good lap in Q2, which he had to abandon due to yellow flags caused by Norris. Alonso did good enough laptime to advance into Q3, and was faster after theif first runs in Q2, and both Alpines were matching each other in S1 on their last laps, only to get screwed by yellow. OCO was improving by 0.37 (by his delta on steering wheel), ALO by 0.20 (again, steering wheel delta), but both laps weren’t finished. First Q2 lap was 0,2s faster by ALO, so I guess if Spain was valid for OCO, now this has to be a valid point for ALO? Virtual ALO 3:3 OCO

          Canada: ALO 6:3 OCO – ALO clearly faster in wet conditions, valid point. Virtual ALO 4:3 OCO

          Silverstone: ALO 7:3 OCO – ALO was quicker in Q1, in Q2 OCO had battery/deployment issues in best moment, before rain intensified. I still would count it as a valid point for ALO. Virtual ALO 5:3 OCO

          Austria: ALO 7:4 OCO – ALO was quicker in Q1, OCO was quicker in Q2 and Q3. ALO suffered in Q3 from minor floor damage, but it was caused by himself going wide. Valid point for OCO, sprint doesn’t matter. Virtual ALO 5:4 OCO

          France: ALO 8:4 OCO – ALO clearly faster all weekend long, having fresh PU after Austria. OCO dropped out in Q2, complaining about car balance. Valid point for ALO, virtual ALO 6:4 OCO

          Hungary: ALO 8:5 OCO – ALO faster in Q1 and Q2, OCO faster in Q3. Valid point for OCO, virtual ALO 6:5 OCO

          Belgium: ALO 8:6 OCO – OCO faster all weekend long, having fresh PU. Valid point for OCO, virtual ALO 6:6 OCO

          Netherlands: ALO 8:7 OCO – ALO was faster in Q1, but got slowed down by Perez in Q2 (IMO not that significant, maybe more “disturbed” than “blocked”, as he described. However, he lost 0.3s he gained in S1, so his lap could be enough to beat OCO. There wasn’t even an investigation for Perez, so can we really count it as being impeded, or just being hot-headed and wasting his own opportunity? Virtual ALO 6:6 OCO

          Italy: ALO 9:7 OCO – ALO quicker in Q1 and Q2, valid point for ALO – despite OCO having fresh ICE. Virtual ALO 7:6 OCO

          Singapore: ALO 10:7 OCO – OCO suffered with brakes issues, which are especially significant on such technical track as Singapore, and especially in the wet. We cannot really predict who would win this battle, so no virtual points scored there. Virtual ALO 7:6 OCO

          Japan: ALO 10:8 OCO – ALO quicker in Q1 and Q2, OCO quicker in Q3. Valid point for OCO, virtual ALO 7:7 OCO

          I calculated even more “weird” statistics (which I really like, calculating useless stuff), and I’ve came up with a conclustion that ALO is having significantly worse “Free Practise to Qualifying progression” than OCO, which is pushing me to a conclusion that ALO is using higher power unit modes more often in Free Practises than other drivers, while OCO is usually hiding his true pace on Friday (as his progression is at Red Bull level, who was obviously hiding their true pace against Ferrari).

          I know F1 is more complex than a couple of numbers manupulated by some random nerd, but history taught me to never believe anything ALO is saying.

  3. Verstappen, Hamilton, Alonso and Leclerc would be my special drivers. Maybe it is too early to be sure Leclerc is in that group but he has done what he needs against all his team mates so far.

    1. As much as Leclerc is a great driver/talent, his progress the past few years has been somewhat limited.
      I’m not sure what the final pecking order will be between Leclerc, Norris, and Russell

  4. Hard to square Fred being top-3 with being behind Esteban in the same car.

    1. So there is only one name missing ;)
      And I assume that is the top 3 of all time.

    2. Alonso has had rotten luck don’t forget. Just like Lewis, he was down a lot of points early on in the season.

    3. Please remember that Alonso was in points in Monza and Singapore, while Ocon was far from the top 10. And Alonso didn’t finish in either of races due to car.

      Alonso would be in front of Ocon.

  5. There’s a case to be made for sure. Top three means there are two others in there, these are obvious: Hamilton and Verstappen. Vettel has trailed off too much to be among them, even if he was definitely there before. His best moments are still excellent, but they are increasingly few and far between.

    Other candidates that might push Alonso out? I suspect few would argue for Zhou, Bottas, Stroll, Albon, Magnussen, Schumacher, Ricciardo, Latifi, Gasly and Tsunoda. And at the front of the grid Pérez, Russell and Sainz can’t keep up with their teammates.

    That leaves Ocon and Leclerc. Ocon’s position is strong, but you have to consider all the setbacks Alonso has had in the races this year. Still, Ocon is probably closer to Alonso than he would like. Leclerc is seriously fast, but there doesn’t seem to be much of an upwards trend to his development. He’s always been very fast, but his poles to win ratio (18:5) is troublesome. For comparison, Verstappen’s is 18:32, Vettel’s is 57:53, Hamilton’s is 103:103, and Alonso’s is 22:32.

      1. Good call, I missed Norris having lumped Ricciardo in with the back of the field. Norris and Sainz time together doesn’t suggest Norris is right up there at the very top, but he’s certainly been impressive on numerous occasions.

        Next year will be interesting for him. He’ll have to beat one of the highest-rated rookies in years.

        1. Norris frequently got the best of Sainz and had more of the bad luck in their time together. For me both Russell and Norris are better than Alonso now. Alonso from 2012 maybe not, but this is not the same as the one driving now. Leclerc is also likely better than Alonso but I concede he is error prone.

  6. Why does the Jaguar picture look like the person is mix with De La Rosa, Webber, Klien and Sato

  7. With a car good enough he could still beat any of the current drivers. With only Max or Lec giving him a hard time of it.

    1. The you left off is the one who actually did. Do even his supporters have the same issue?

  8. I sure won’t argue with you, Pedro!

  9. They have the PR man and a driver, but alas that car. GP2 aero.

Comments are closed.