I watched a good portion of the maiden race for Fernando Alonso in the WEC series opener at Spa Francorchamps. There was the Toyota dominance and the issue of a intra-team deal that the leading car at the last pit stop would hold station but nonetheless, this was Fernando’s very first time in the WEC participating in an endurance race.
He had competed in the Daytona 24 which had to be a good appetizer of what it is like to have teammates and protect a car for the long haul but the race at Spa was his first in the 2018 WEC campaign he has signed up for with Toyota.
He and his teammates won that race and will now move onward eventually ending up at the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans which will also see his former teammate, Jenson Button, race it. While Button is no slouch behind the wheel of any car, he did pay Alonso a compliment telling Sky Sports F1:
“We’re going to go into Le Mans racing against each other and I know if we’re in a stint together, he’s not going to put a foot wrong.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s 3 o’clock in the morning or 3 o’clock in the afternoon, he’s going to be 100 per cent.
“You’ve got to keep up with that and it’s tough but that’s what I love about racing against the best drivers in the world. They keep you on your toes.”
“He’s definitely one of the drivers you worry about,” Button said. “Whatever you’re racing in, if he’s competing – you’re going to worry.
“He’s not just quick. He’s a very clever driver, he’s got the experience and he is always there. If you have a great day, you might out-qualify him and you might have a great race but he will always be on your heels. He very rarely has a bad race, which is tough when you’re team-mates with him.”
Button knows first-hand the relentless nature of Alonso and just how daunting he can be. While Lewis Hamilton was dismissive of Alonso’s qualifying effort in his first-ever Indycar debut at the Indy 500—by suggesting the quality of the field must not be strong to see Fernando qualify so high—others believe that the quality of the Indycar field is just fine, Alonso is simply one of the best to ever drive and that’s why he runs at the front of any series he’s in and given the right tools, he wins in every series he’s in too.
Others aren’t as sold on Alonso’s skills and point to some dodgy moments in his past with the McLaren Spygate and the Renault Crashgate incidents as more indicative of his true nature. For me, whether those allegations are right or not, neither was necessary as Alonso never needed insider info or a teammate to crash to hand him victory…he earns those just fine through punishingly good driving skills.
Button is right, he is one of the very best in Formula 1 and like Sebastien Loeb in World Rally, A. J. or Mario in Indycar and Tom Christensen in WEC, I think Alonso is one of those rare drivers who is fast in anything he drives.
Hat Tip: Sky Sports F1