Motorsport

Alonso expects 300th Grand Prix to be a bore

2018-06-09 20:05
Fernando Alonso (Getty)

Montreal - Fernando Alonso expects to mark his 300th Grand Prix entry in Canada this weekend with anything but a memorable upset victory.

Having failed to make the top ten in Saturday morning's final free practice session - he was 13th for McLaren while team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne was 10th - his chances of a strong grid position diminished.

In a disappointing season, he was hardly surprised. For him, Formula One has become an utterly predictable if not yet a boring sport.

Once the youngest victor and a renowned joker, he is now a senior citizen who has seen it all. Fortunately, he has retained his humour.

"I'm not bored," he said. "It's obviously the top series in motorsport and it's where we all dream to come, but it's true that in the last years it is so predictable.

"This is race seven - there are 21 races - and we all know what is going to happen. You can play basketball and have a magic night and score 40 points with your team-mates and win the game.

"There are favourites for the World Cup, but you can't guarantee Germany, Spain or Brazil will win, but here everyone can guarantee that Mercedes, or Ferrari, will win the race and that is very sad for the sport."

Widely regarded as one of the finest drivers of his era, Alonso's career has been a lesson in under-achievement as he has won only two drivers' championships and made a sequence of bad decisions in team selection.

He started his career in 2001 - at the same season-opening Australian Grand Prix as Kimi Raikkonen of Ferrari - and he will be 37 next month (July).

He will be only the fourth F1 driver to take part in 300 Grand Prix meetings, although he has started only 297, having missed taking the grid twice.

- 'Acrimony' -

Asked about his status in the sport, he said: "I am one of the best to have raced in F1... I am probably not the fastest driver in qualifying.

"I'm probably not the fastest driver in the race or in wet conditions, but I am a 9.5 in all areas and I try to benefit from that."

It is more than five years since his last victory and 12 since the second of his two drivers' titles with Renault. He has won 32 races, half the total of current champion Lewis Hamilton, whose career did not start until they paired at McLaren in 2007.

That proved to be an ill-starred season for Alonso who departed after just one year of acrimony and returned to Renault, then went to Ferrari, again with bad timing, before returning to McLaren again where he has experienced the most miserable period of his career since 2015.

"I could have won four or five championships, but at the same time I feel extremely privileged to have had 18 years in F1," he said this week in Montreal, where he has been feted for his class and longevity.

"I have a lot of good memories. There have been a lot of ups and downs, but winning my two championships was definitely the high point."

Next weekend, he will return to France for the Le Mans 24 Hours race in his bid to emulate Briton Graham Hill's achievement in lifting the 'triple crown' of victories at the Monaco Grand Prix, the Indianapolis 500 and Le Mans.

He has won twice in Monaco and was unlucky not to succeed last year in Indianapolis, where a late engine failure ruined his race. Many observers regard him as a strong contender for Le Mans.

But Formula One remains Alonso's first love, even if he is disappointed by its current format.

"Probably it will never change, really," he said.

"This has been F1 for many years... I remember in 2009, with Renault, that we were not very competitive and we still did some practice or qualifying runs because we wanted to test the tyres, or something like that, and we were P1.

"It was nothing, but it was a gift for the mechanics and for the motivation and for the sponsors. Now we can do whatever and we won't be P1 because the differences are huge.

"Now, it's just a train of cars every two weeks..."

Read more on:    fernando alonso  |  f1
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