Alonso: Not winning title with Ferrari my biggest disappointment

2023 F1 season

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Fernando Alonso says that the biggest disappointment of his F1 career was not winning the world championship with Ferrari.

Alonso won two world titles in 2005 and 2006 with Renault before a famously tumultuous season with McLaren in 2007 before returning to Renault. He then joined Ferrari for the 2010 season, racing for the Scuderia for five years and finishing runner up in the championship to Sebastian Vettel in three of those seasons.

Speaking on the latest episode of the High Performance Podcast, when asked what the biggest disappointment of his career that he uses to motivate himself after more than 20 years in the sport, Alonso pointed to his time at Maranello.

“If you go back in time, you’d change things,” Alonso admitted. “Winning a championship with Ferrari, that will be probably the first thing that I choose if I can go back in time.

“In 2010, 2012 we were within a few laps to winning a championship and that probably could have changed a little bit the outcome of many things and the history of a few things. I was disappointed for sure to miss those. But this is difficult to change and you depend on many other people and other teams as well and performance of the cars and things, it is difficult to regret something because this is out of your hands.”

While Alonso says he has no regrets over his stint at Ferrari, he does regret not taking more time to enjoy racing and his successes during the earlier years of his career.

Alonso finished second to Vettel three times at Ferrari
“I know that I’m at the end of it and there is a new life in a few years time for me without driving,” he said. “When I will look back at my career, I will see a lot of good things and good friendships and incredible experiences.

“But it’s like I should have enjoyed more and if I had the opportunity to live my exact life once more, maybe I don’t change anything on my teams or my choices or this Ferrari maybe title or whatever, I will just change to live a little bit more all those moments and try to have more memories from those moments. I won the championship in Brazil 2005 and 2006 and I hardly remember anything from those afternoons and nights – which is sad, you know. So these are the kind of things that I will change.”

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Alonso says he was constantly looking ahead to the next race during his first stint in the sport. After returning to F1 from a two-year retirement in 2021, he says he is finding more joy in racing in Formula 1.

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin, Silverstone, 2023
The 42-year-old is third in the championship
“When I won the two championships back in Renault, my Ferrari time, it was good but you are so focused on the next race, on the next weekend. You finish one race, you may win the race and you go to the airport and when you are in the plane, you’re thinking about next weekend. So you land at home and you text your engineer, ‘you know, we need to test software at the rear because the traction was very bad in this race at the end of the race,’ these kind of things.

“I think with age and now at this point of my career, it is like the podiums of this year – it seems that when I re-watch the race on TV, I seem the happiest in the podium and I was third and two times second. But it’s because I’m able to enjoy more those kind of moments and celebrating every weekend is part of my thing now.”

Alonso turned 42-years-old over the Belgian Grand Prix weekend, and is the oldest active F1 driver. The Aston Martin driver currently sits third in the drivers’ championship at the summer break and says that his age is not a detriment to his on-track performance.

“I think when you are 20 you see life in a way and when you are 40, you see it in a completely different way,” Alonso explained.

“Unfortunately, life, when you have the experience of 40-years-old, you will love to have 20 because you have your body ready for the knowledge that you have at 40. But in motorsport, I think at the age of 40 and the knowledge that you have at 40 it’s not a big disadvantage not to have the body of 20 because we’re still driving cars and it’s more a mental thing and create automatism on your hands, steering wheel, all these kind of things. So I think at the moment I feel good because my sport is good at the age of 40 and that knowledge and it’s still delivering. If I was a footballer or a tennis player or whatever, that will be more painful.”

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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...

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16 comments on “Alonso: Not winning title with Ferrari my biggest disappointment”

  1. A driver who’s success tally doesn’t tell the true story of his talent. Which is really saying something for a double world champion.

    Long may his second career continue, hopefully with even more success.

  2. Alonso is a great example of a particular trait that seems to be necessary to be a good sportsman: they are very good at isolating their own contribution from external influences, and just focus relentlessly on doing the best job now and next time without getting too bogged down about previous results that they may or may not have had much influence over.

    Arguably Alonso takes it a bit too far, because there were definitely moments in 2010 and 2012 where he single-handedly dropped the ball and cost himself points – and in doing so perhaps even the championship. But regardless, it’s impressive to see him still on it 20+ years after his debut. I doubt many people can bring themselves to care that much, and be that dedicated, for that long.

    1. 2012? Sorry? Since I started watching F1 in 1980 when Alan Jones claimed his championship with Williams, 2012 is the perfect season of any F1 driver I have ever seen. Probably being crushed by a headless Grosjean in Spa is what you call “single-handedly dropped the ball and cost himself points”. But not. The other almost perfect season I saw was McLaren’s 1988, and there you had Senna running into Schlesser’s Williams while lapping him. So, yes. In my humble but long term point of view, 2012 is the best season of any driver I’ve known.

      1. Agreed, 2012 was along with Schumacher 2001 (not 2002) an almost perfect season. Alonso could arguably have been more weary in Japan, but otherwise it was the wrong strategy by Ferrari (who otherwise were pretty sharp back in the days) that cost him a possible win in Canada and a likely win in Great Britain.

  3. A true legend in the sport

  4. That disappointment is especially galling when Alonso’s rival Kimi won the WDC with Ferrari in his first year. That with first race in Oz: a clean sweep from pole with win and fastest lap. Effortless.

    Kimi was not wholly settled into a car not 100% suited to his style (more to Schumacher still) and subsequent races were not all winners with McLaren proving they had the best car.

    But Kimi was in his prime still and worked hard with Stella and got the car sorted by mid year. Sure, the Alo/Ham feuding helped, but the bottom line is Kimi won more races than either of them. Schumacher worked hard subsequently to get Ferrari to swing behind Massa rather than Kimi. Domenicali bought into this and 2008 was not a successful year for anybody. Not Kimi. Or Ferrari. Or Massa. 2009 was worse still. Except for Spa, of course. Then along came Fernando of course, and gained not a single title for them. Petrov had something to say about it….

    1. Honestly, while Kimi drove well that year, it was not as much as him winning, but the McLaren team and their drivers doing so much damage to themselves that neither claimed the title in the end.

    2. Räikkönen just had an underwhelming 2008 campaign. And that was sadly to be followed by many more, culminating in the rather unimpressive stat of only having won just a single race from 2014 through 2018 while his teammate accumulated over a dozen despite an unprecedented era of domination by Mercedes.

      Räikkönen actually led the 2008 standings for a bit, and was still tied for most point with Hamilton (and Massa) at the halfway mark after the English GP. But he also cost himself tons of points; he crashed into Sutil, and out of the points, in Monaco having already lost places earlier in the race, crashed out in Belgium, was weirdly off the pace at the wet Monza all weekend, and crashed out again in Singapore. Outside of his control, he also had two engine failures and was taken out of the race when Hamilton crashed into him in the Canadian pitlane.

    3. Kimi at Ferrari was a huge disappointment for me. He was never again the same driver he was at Mclaren.

      In 3 seasons he had probably one season worth of good races. He shouldn’t even win that first race, only did because Massa had a car failure on qualifying, as he was faster at that moment. And then only really went on when they changed the color of the car to a darker red and introduced those spiky things on the sides of the cockpit, in France, and still there were off weekends every now and then.

      The next season he started better but was never solid enough to actually defend his title.

  5. It is a testament to Fernando’s skill and fortitude that most people view him, having achieved two world titles, as having underachieved. I can see why it would be a disappointment to him with his talent.

    He cannot say that he did not have his chances but it’s difficult to win a title when you don’t have the best car. Still one of the F1 greats. Certainly in my F1 lifetime.

    1. It also speaks to his excellent storytelling, in which he is inevitably the hero of the story. Alonso had great cars for more than his two title winning seasons, and arguably had no business losing the 2007 title.

      There’s no shame in it though; even the greatest champions lost title battles in competitive cars.

  6. All he had to do, was to not crash in Suzuka. Too hard, eh?

    1. Guessing you didn’t watch that race. Getting a minor tap that turns into a puncture doesn’t represent a ‘crash’.

  7. If his plans had worked, he would probably never even drive for Ferrari as it would be back to their mid-90s form after his 2 or 3 sucessfull seasons with Mclaren and Red Bull would be the team to beat by then.

  8. i like your post , It was really useful for me. I also sent this to my brother, of course I have a question, let me see it again, if it is not fixed, can i ask you?

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