You know it has been quite some time since I waxed poetically about Fernando Alonso–the driver I favor the most and have done so since the beginning of his tenure in the pinnacle of motorsport. There was a time that it seemed as though every other post I contributed here was about Alonso. Alonso this, Alonso that, Alonso is the best, when will Alonso have the car to match his skill set? Alonso, Alonso, ALONSO, day and night, night and day.
Going back a few years there was much to say in regards to the Spaniard. The heartbreak of 2010 in Abu Dhabi and all the references to that campaign. Then the agonizing feeling of Brazil 2012 and how Vettel’s luck was beyond belief and also how all of a sudden Jenson Button’s McLaren was quick again seven races later, whatever; this also found it way into my modus operandi as well. Good grief, it was getting so that I had to restrict myself to every third post about the Spaniard or something along those line anyways.
Yes, I had to force myself to blog about the other drivers, the other teams, the behind the scenes of F1, anything but Alonso. Then 2014 happened and all of F1, myself included, turned their focus to the Mercedes resurgence and the duel between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.
Moving right along, the 2015 season begins and posts about Alonso have now slowed to a near drip, drip, drip and in some cases none at all. Sure there were a few about leaving Ferrari in such a huff, a few in regards to the McLaren move (a move that no one in their carbon fiber mind would ever have predicted), but aside from those I did not have that much to say.
I was too busy breaking down the Lewis vs. Nico rivalry, the crashes, the backstabbing, the comebacks and the defeats. I think I typed over 60,000 words of copy over those two years about the silver arrows and their drivers having it all their way. When I was not stirring the pot about those two, Toto, Niki or Paddy, I was trying to remind everyone that when the honeymoon is over between F1’s most recent newlyweds, Ferrari and their newest savior Sebastian Vettel, it is going to get a bit testy over there in Enzo land (my predictions are starting to come true by the way – but that is a subject for another post) ;-)
Of course what was there really to say? Alonso was now in a car that was in its infancy and aside from all the trials of last year and some of the same this season I have not really been all that inspired to tell you how Alonso is the best, how he should have four if not five WDCs already, he just needs a good car, blah blah, blah. I don’t even want to hear that anymore and I love the guy.
Then came Austin and I, we, you were reminded of the Warrior inside. That Alonso never gives up, that while for most of the season Alonso has been mid-pack or further back still and not really able to do much in the way of racing, a sleeping giant was there watching and waiting. Alonso, whether you like him, dislike him or flat-out loath him, is still one of the top three drivers in F1 today. Rosberg could be included in that trio soon, possibly Daniel Ricciardo as well, surely Max is on his way to greatness, but they all still have a ways to go before that happens in my opinion.
To the point, in Austin, albeit with some help from Verstappen’s gear box and Kimi Raikkonen’s botched wheel change and the right tires at the end, Fernando delivered a top five drive on a circuit that I thought surely would reveal a still underpowered Honda PU and a chassis with a long way to go. Alonso yet again showed us all why he is still one of the best. And should McLaren hit the sweet spot with their new chassis’ interpretation of the regulation changes, and if Honda’s PU really comes on song, I have no doubt Alonso will be just as fast as he ever was, and an even better driver due to his additional experience and lastly his hunger for the all consuming third title not to mention a few more hash marks in the win column. It is not lost on Alonso that Hamilton, who just a few years ago was in the wilderness, recently became the most winningest driver behind Prost and Schumacher and has already surpassed Senna, a childhood hero to both drivers.
Recently Alonso stated that his motivation is dependent on how the new McLaren drives next year, based on the new regulations. The idea of a faster car, more grip and the feeling that you are really driving something out of this world is what will keep him in F1. I think it goes a bit deeper than that, but ok I’ll buy it for now. I also think he is right to stay with McLaren and Honda and see out his contract with their fully actualized package. While the odds are long of a championship next year things could change in a heartbeat.
We all know how hard it is to play catch-up in F1, but we also know that each team has their time and then they don’t. It happens to every big team. Of the ones around currently, Williams, Ferrari, McLaren, Red Bull and now Mercedes, they all enjoyed a few or a few-plus years of prosperity and then it was over. So the question is not “Will this happen to the Mercs?”, but only “When will it happen?”.
And like all cycles, what was old is now new, what once was, is again, and most importantly what and who were champions will be champions again. Yes, I feel the tide is turning, those warm Santa Ana’s (this is a Los Angeles thing, Raymond Chandler opens all his noir novels with this catch phase) are a bit cooler now and my fingers are getting a bit of tingle in them again.
I am looking forward to writing 60,000 no lets make that 80,000 words of copy about you know who doing you know what….