Fernando Alonso, McLaren, Albert Park, 2018

Keeping Verstappen behind was tough – Alonso

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In the round-up: Fernando Alonso describes his first proper wheel-to-wheel encounter with Max Verstappen.

What they’re saying

Alonso hasn’t had much chance to spar with Verstappen over the last few years – here’s what he had to say about their first on-track encounter:

It was tough. Obviously when you see the mirror and you have Max Verstappen behind it’s always a risk because he’s a very good talent, he’s very aggressive in the overtaking moves.

So I had to be very careful on the lines and obviously no mistakes because if not he will overtake you. It was a nice fight, we kept him behind but hopefully next time we look even forward.

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Comment of the day

Don’t dumb down F1, says Stef:

A huge part of the allure of F1 for me is the fact it features the high technology, the high performance, the R&D race, All of these little developments on the cars and push the limits of whats possible…. Those are for me what puts F1 above pretty much every other category.

The prospect of dumbing-down the engines, Removing the MGU-H (Where there is a lot of development opportunities and performance to be found), Having more spec parts, Reducing performance, Limiting development etc… worries me because I don’t think that’s what F1 should be and it certainly isn’t the F1 I want to see.

This is my 29th year of following F1 (I started in 1989 when I was five) and I hope to be following for another 29, But if the 2021 regulations go too far down the standard parts, performance equalisation, dumbed down route then I can honestly see myself just walking away from F1. I await the proposals and hope that they aren’t as I fear they may be.

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  • 41 comments on “Keeping Verstappen behind was tough – Alonso”

    1. Completely agree with the Comment of the Day. What makes Formula One unique from any other racing series (with the possible exception of WEC) is the technological development. Make the playing field more level, yes, but don’t do so at the cost of watering down the essence of the sport.

      1. Well, you can’t have it all.
        As is, the sport is already “dumped down”. I have little doubt it would be quite easy for all teams to make a significantly faster car if only there would not be so many rules. The question is of course: how far do you want to go. Until now I did not see a lot of proposals that woud really ruin the essence of F1. But than again, I did not see many solid proposals at all.

    2. I don’t necessarily agree with the COTD. Automotive technology (particularly on F1) is nowadays so advanced and so good that drivers don’t really drive the cars so much as they operate them. There is some stuff that is needless and other stuff that should be developed further.

      When you started following F1 in 1989, that was when F1 was at its absolute peak, and has not been as good or as interesting since then. F1 cars have never looked or sounded as good as they have from that late 80’s-early 90’s era (the early 2000’s cars sounded great too but they all had similar engines, so they all sounded more or less the same). There was so much innovation, personality and color back then- and F1 barely has any of that anymore thanks to changing times, far moreand far more restrictive regulations.

      1. *far more money involved

        There should always be room for innovation in F1- technology has really what F1 has always been about.

        1. F1 is at its peak now. These cars are immense pieces of engineering that demand resources to squeeze a hundredth or thousandth of advantage. Given the advancement of manufacturing technology available to small manufacturers now it would be very easy to produce cars of the quality of the 80’s-90’s F1 cars, even for the smallest of operations. You’re looking too much inside the box. F1 will only get more expensive, the sport needs to grow to accomodate that, there is plenty of opportunity to.

          There is a not too distant future where the cars are printed to suit the track they are at, in the pitlane. The materials are self healing, and the scandals are all data based…

          1. The more expensive it gets and the more money one party has, the less opportunity there is for everyone- that is quite simply how the modern business world works. F1 is at its technological peak, that goes without saying. It is a form of competition where the most advanced technology of the current time that is allowed is always used. But in terms of its image and its glamour, it will be very difficult to bring it back to what it was in those days. They were simpler times, yes but what F1 should do is take the best of both worlds.

            1. Nowadays it’s all about the little steps- no more big steps can be taken thanks to the restrictive rules, and that is a waste of time. It is literally impossible for a team to catch up; they effectively have to wait until the next set of regs come out so they can build an all new car, not an evolution of the previous year’s car.

      2. COTD…..I dont agree with it either. Who wants to see 1 driver racking up wins and championships in a car faster than everbody else? I dont. F1 is lacking competition! 2 teams have dominated for the past 8 years(probably 9 by end of 2018), and that is choking the “sport” to death!!! Yet another season watching 1 driver beat his teammate to another hollow title would be too much! The car is the star, not the driver!

        1. There seem to be still many fans who don’t understand that F1 is not a ‘find the best driver’ series. F1 is all about the best Car/PU/Driver combination.
          The task for FIA is to keep a balance between these 3 (and make sure PU cannot be monopolised by teams).

      3. Was it really at its peak then, or are you just saying that because you happened to start watching the sport in that era and that childhood impression is what you remember?

        Going back to contemporary reports of the time, there were quite a few who bemoaned what they saw as the end of the golden era of the sport, which to them was in the 1960’s and 1970’s, as budgets started rapidly shooting up and the independent manufacturers who had been around in the sport were muscled out by manufacturers.

        There seems to be a lot of mythologising and idealisation of the 1990’s in particular, but if you go back to that era and go through what most of those at the time were saying or writing about the competition and the cars, so much of what was being said then is pretty much the same as what we’re hearing now.

        To the writers of the time, the rise of technology and the increasing complexity of the cars meant “that drivers don’t really drive the cars so much as they operate them” and was somehow eroding the “purity” of the sport (remember Prost christening his car the “little Airbus”?).

        Spending, meanwhile, was going out of control as budgets were skyrocketing year on year – the 1990’s saw the first formal proposals being submitted to the FIA and the World Motorsport Council to restrict development and to impose longer life components to reduce costs.

        As for what was happening on track, “the big two” (McLaren and Williams) were dominating the sport too much and there wasn’t enough competition on track, leading to strung out fields as the midfield pack couldn’t keep up, whilst the racing didn’t live up to what the writers had witnessed in the 1960’s and 1970’s.

        Even the complaints about “excessive safety measures” making the cars look uglier and harder to make out the drivers in the cockpit, or that the sport had become “too safe”, was “wrapping the drivers in cotton wool” and was “no longer a man’s sport” will sound very familiar to a modern audience.

        Whilst I’ve not been watching the sport for as long as some here, I’ve definitely watched it for long enough to know that the fans will always say that the racing was better in the past: just as, in the 1990’s, critics complained that the sport had gone downhill compared to the “golden era” of a generation earlier, a generation later we now say that the racing today is rubbish and the 1990’s is now being transformed into that mythical “golden era” that always seemed to exist a generation ago.

        1. Good comment

        2. Now this generation will turn into a golden era when in the future fans reminisce about legendary drivers like Alonso, Vettel, Hamilton and Raikkonen, and teams like Force India, Red Bull and Mercedes.

        3. @anon Of course you are right, but I also think we must remind ourselves that things are indeed different in the world now. There might have been similar complaints and issues in, for example, the late 80’s early 90’s, but there was also a much healthier environment of sponsor money availability, a lesser need for pay drivers, etc etc. Many similar issues to now, but with much less real urgency to do much about it. The audience numbers were still very high, there wasn’t pressure to cover off social media etc etc.

          Just saying, as I implied to cotd upon his original posting, there wasn’t the motivation to change but now I think there is real urgency but as well the opportunity under new leadership to change F1 for the better and get out of the mode they’ve been in for too long. I don’t see Liberty dumbing F1 down, but I do see them giving it a different flavour by finally addressing the dirty air issue for example, and for me that alone would be huge.

          So I don’t fear the future with Liberty at all. I’m stoked at the opportunity they have, because they’ve been saying all the right things, and because there has never been the real motivation under BE to change with the times. Times that Ferrari would love to cling to. If we’ve been able to say the same things, raise the same concerns, for decades now, for several chapters and eras, and F1 is as it is now, then absolutely please do bring on a new philosophy for the very different times we are now in.

          1. @robbie, I would fundamentally disagree with the notion that there was less need for pay drivers, because many christen the 1990’s as the golden era of the pay driver.

            I believe that Berger, was quoted in 1990 as saying that, out of all the drivers who competed that year (around 40), he reckoned that only about 10 of them actually won their seat on merit and that the rest of the grid were only there because they were paying for their seats. Few would say that figures like Paolo Barilla or Gregor Foitek, just to pick a few examples, were there because of anything else than their wallets.

            I would also argue that the 1980’s and 1990’s wasn’t really “a much healthier environment of sponsor money availability” – certainly not the early 1990’s given that multiple major economies went into major recessions around that time, nor later financial crises that hit the sport in the late 1990’s.

            I mean, if you take the grid at the start of 1989 and then look at the grid again at the end of the 1994 season, AGS, BMS, Brabham, Coloni, Eurobrun, Larrousse, Lotus, March, Rial, Onyx, Osella and Zakspeed had all vanished during that period, not to mention outfits like Fondmetal, Andrea Moda or Life that cropped up and collapsed within that period.

            That is at least fifteen teams, most of which barely lasted for a few years, going into liquidation in that period because there wasn’t enough sponsorship to support that many teams – that doesn’t speak to me of a healthy financial environment. Whilst that was probably the most extreme period, there were still quite a few bankruptcies in the period before that (Spirit, RAM, Lola-Haas) and after that (Arrows, Pacific, Simtek) as well.

    3. It wasn’t the first proper battle between Alonso and Verstappen. In Russia ’15 Verstappen was also chasing down Alonso at the end of the race with a damaged car, at the start a spinning Hulkenberg collected Verstappen. Alonso got penalized for abusing track limits making Verstappen end up 10th. One race later in Japan they were at it again for about 12 laps because Verstappen was on the slower tyres and which ended with Alonso’s “GP2 engine, GP2 engine!”

    4. OmarRoncal - Go Seb!!! (@)
      30th March 2018, 3:05

      I know F1 is the pinnacle of car technology. But what does that exactly means? If cars technology achieves fast driverless cars in, lets say, 2025, does that mean that in order to remain the top tech category, F1 should say bye to human-driven cars? I wouldn’t see it if I knew that a computer calculates everything.
      And I mean that, if F1 is where you see the best CAR technology, it should also mirror how, when you drive your car on the road, it’s just you and the car (and Waze maybe). I mean, F1 is too controlled by out-of-the-car technology. Mercedes latest claims about the software bug making them lose the race are worrying.
      Do drivers need the assistance of dozens of people on computers at the racetrack, and at the factory thanks to Internet connections, to win a race? That’s the kind of technology that makes so difficult to catch up top teams and their botomless wallets.
      Bring back the cars that just need a tool to fire up, instead of a laptop. And ban computers controlling the strategy out of the track. Let’s say all teams are given 4 computers ON TRACK, not wired to the internet (so no headquarters B-team calculating everything), to plan the strategy. Maybe in that way there could be more human error, which is totally natural, and the field would be levelled in a fair way.

      1. F1 should be a mechanical sport. No sensors no computers. Man and mechanical machine. No radios. Then we’d have what caught the imagination back in the day before computers started to perfect and sterilize the environment.

    5. Regarding COTD; Formula One should definitely be technologically advanced but it has got to the point where it is removing any possibility of actual racing and that is a real problem. The addition of DRS zones and multiple tyre compounds (to increase strategic possibilities ) is no compensation for the on track battles and overtakes I want to see.

    6. With regards to COTD: you cannot please everyone. Not teams, not drivers, not commercial partners, not TV stations and definitely not fans. Some will be unhappy and might walk away. I’m the same age as @stefmeister, watching continuously since 1994 and I might walk away from F1 if the MGU-h stays. I see the current over-complicated engines as detrimental to the long term health of F1. They’re too expensive, pointless and a huge barrier to entry, at a time when F1 is barely able to sustain 10 teams. I also might walk away if they don’t reduce the pointless over-complicated dirty aero, which is hugely detrimental to racing and therefore to survival of F1. Also aero is boring and pointless to most of the fans. I don’t care for over-complicated engine technology either. I only care about the racing and that F1 is a pinnacle of motorsport. And to be a pinnacle of motorsport you don’t need the MGU-h or the stupid dirty aero. The cars are too heavy and the racing’s worse(I still despair about the stupid changes in 2017 which added more dirty aero for the purpose of “making cars faster”. How could a group of very smart people not see that it’s better for the cars to be 3sec slower but have better racing?)

      Nobody wants F1 to become like Indycar a spec series. But a balance must be found. And at the moment
      it’s skewed too much in favor of tech to the detriment of racing. This is unacceptable to me.

      Ultimately though, everything I wrote above doesn’t matter. FIA and LIberty should just say: this is a set of rules from 2021 onwards that will improve the long term sustainability of F1, will help us to attract more fans, more teams, more engine manufacturers, more sponsors. Take it or leave it. No consensus is possible in the piranha club, everyone’s pulling in their own direction. And there will be definitely some who’ll leave, whether it’s Stef, me or even Scuderia Ferrari. Well then, goodbye and thanks for the memories. That’s just the way of life, you do the things you must and you can never please everyone…

      1. @montreal95 ”How could a group of very smart people not see that it’s better for the cars to be 3sec slower but have better racing?)”
        – Why do that when/if you can have both: All that really needs to be done to make following another car closely easier is to shift from a predominantly wing-dominant downforce (and or simplify the wings) to a less clean air-dependent method of producing the DF. The amount of downforce isn’t the problem, but how it’s generated.

        1. @jerejj I agree to that. But if, in their opinion, it was not possible to move to underfloor generated downforce for 2017, then it would be ok to just have bigger tires and leave the downforce the way it was in 2016. that way the balance would move toward more mechanical grip vs downforce and that’s ok

          1. @montreal95 I agree with what you’re saying and would only add wrt to your ‘how could a group of very smart people…’ comment that those smart people know exactly what should be done, but this is all still very much the BE era, and teams have only needed to look out for themselves. Liberty has to and will instil a different philosophy that inevitably will be different than the BE era of the last 40 years. The very fact that Brawn has a team working with two cars in a wind tunnel, and they’ll actually act on the findings from that with the next gen of cars, is literally unprecedented in F1 and tells me that Liberty totally gets it.

            1. @robbie I can only hope you’re right. We’ll find out soon enough as the regs are to be decided in the next few months

            2. @montreal95 For sure. I’m not sure if they will have all the answers aerodynamically for the next gen, nor that they need to yet, but more urgently it will be about the engine/pu format which is what makers need the most lead time for.

    7. Hartley got the call up because he kept his mouth shut and worked on improving himself as a driver… Maybe Vergne could learn a thing or two from him.

      1. Touche, someone should forward this comnent to Vergne. Its his lack of humbleness that lost him the seat

        1. Verstappen doesnt seem to be blamed for that ;)
          I know its a different case though. Im saying we probably dont know the real reason behind the Vergne story

          1. I know its a different case though

            so why bring it up?

            1. @Ross @colinmcrui @erikje @minilemm Because it’s still relevant. Arrogance has never been blamed at the great drivers, and to my eyes Vergne is unquestionably a better driver than Hartley and he’s proven himself both in junior series, FE and F1 too considering his machinery. The fact he’s no Verstappen doesn’t mean he has to be humble. Yes, being humble got Hartley back to F1 but that doesn’t mean Vergne has to take the same route. He can be as arrogant as he wants, as long as he brings the results. And he’s doing just that at present. So he can still get back to F1 in the future, without being humble. Yes he won’t ever be Helmet Marko’s driver again but he doesn’t want to anyway.

    8. I agree with the COTD for the most part.
      – To this day I still think that he should’ve been promoted to RBR instead of Kvyat following Seb’s move to Ferrari. I’m not implying that Kvyat didn’t deserve it at all at the time, but JEV deserved it more considering that he both outscored Kvyat and was more experienced than him at the time as well.

      1. @jerejj I agree, but I think we’d end up with the same situation we’re in today, where he’d be sacked in favor of Verstappen. That might have meant he’d be back in in STR now, or left the F1 scene all together. It remains a fact Sainz Jr. is the only driver to ever have a career in F1 after STR besides those promoted to RBR. All other STR drivers ended up elsewhere.

        And if there’s a STR driver that I think deserves another shot in F1 it certainly is not Vergne but Buémi.

    9. “It makes me laugh that Red Bull called on Hartley, given that he’s the one they fired to give me his seat in World Series by Renault.”

      Well, one is a two time world champion and the other is a race winner in FE which is about F3 speeds…

      1. Not to take anything away from Hartley’s endurance championship… but if you put them side-by-side I can 100% guarantee Vergne would be faster. Did you watch full seasons of Vergne vs. Ricciardo in F1?

    10. Times have changed regarding COTD, the risk now is that costs have spiralled so out of control that if this continues the future of the sport is in doubt. No one wants to see a championship with only 4-5 teams. All parties involved with the regulations need to agree in a middle ground that encourages creative development but also keeps the costs controlled. It’s not easy, but not impossible.

    11. Predictable reaction. On driving ability alone, there was nothing in it between Verge and Ricciardo, maybe even a little tilt in the Frenchman’s favour. Furthermore, only Jenson Button comes to mind as a world champion who was ‘humble’ and ‘nice’. Vergne was hungry, competitive and hard done by imho and should still be in F1 ahead of people like Hartley, Gasley, Stroll, Sirotkin and Ericsson.

    12. Great race from Alonso, he also broke the track record on his Mclaren for 16 laps in a row and pulled 9 g’s overtaking excusainz.

    13. I disagree with the cotd. While calling something dumbed down is a bad way to try to have discussion the word “dumb up” fits into the current situation perfectly. F1 did everything it could in the 2014 tech regulations to make it impossible for anyone except engine manufacturers to compete. These dumbed up plans come directly from the strategy group where top 5 teams don their thinking hats and try to come up with regulations that keeps them ahead. They hit the jackpot in 2014. Mercedes has 7 easy championships and competition for the lead is worse than ever in f1. Dominating seasons have come and gone in f1 but never before has one team been able to win 7 titles straight with the people knowing they can not be catched.

      I don’t think “dumbing up” is a good direction for f1. F1 should be about racing first, not technology. And those two are sometimes at odds with each others. Too much tech means easier cars (antilock brakes, traction control, torque vectoring) and worse racing. If the hybrid engines and adding tons of downforce have anything in common it is worse quality of racing. Also generally all people agree that the more electronics you put into the car the less in control the driver is. I don’t think adding more electronics does anything good for the racing. And as such does anything good for f1 as a whole. Yet f1 aspires to have all those 3 as much as possible. Complex hybrid engines, huge downforce levels and massive amount of electronics. In other words dumbing it up as high as it goes.

      F1 used to be about fastest cars, best drivers of the world and using everything to make your car faster. Once the big manufacturers came in those ideas were perverted into road relevance and using complex technologies even if the goal is just to burn more money. It is about calling itself eco friendly while burning as much oil as possible. It is about taking words and then attaching them to f1 just so some big wigs in big company meetings can call f1 road relevant racing to justify the hundreds of millions it costs to do per season. Hybrid as a word now means cutting edge innovation even if the hybrid in f1 does nothing what it does in a road car. Not that it is cutting edge either. Toyota prius came out in 1997. It is not about fast cars or even drivers anymore. It is about brands and trickle down road car technologies that actually dribble down from road cars into f1. Dumbing up is a dead end. Only things it guarantees is high costs, poor quality of racing and road relevance that doesn’t mean anything when you look how relevant it actually is.

    14. I’ve been a long time fan of this website, a long time Formula 1 fan, a fan of motorsport in general.

      This is my first time commenting as I enjoy reading through the banter among our fan base whether it be armchair pundits, knowledgeable track experienced drivers, or Engineering educated analysts. I love it. Plain and simple. That being said I am a Mechanical Engineer through schooling, an avid motorcyclist, track day enthusiast, former National Team Alpine ski racer and like to think I have a rational, analytical view of this sport (but hey, who am I kidding, I’ve never driven an F1 car).

      Regarding “purists”, the “cost capping”, “equalization”, “simpler engine formulae”, all of that, lets look at this from the truth of the matter. Technology is advancing and we have to move with the times. Look at the business world for example, investment banks don’t police each other to say “hey guys, that company made more money, or are more efficient, or spent more money on creme de la creme Portfolio Mangers or analysts. It is what it is, competition is healthy, it fuels innovation, it gives opportunity to those “guys with an idea” to excel and make a name for themselves. Adrian Newey wouldn’t be where he is today if he didn’t have the opportunity with teams with “unfair budget advantages”. Do you think blown diffusers would have been created by a team like Manor Racing? Do you think adaptive suspension would have been created by a team like Caterham Racing? My point is capital is necessary to fuel innovation, unlimited budgets or huge philanthropic grants excel our modern day world.

      Yes I hear everyone’s comments that spending is out of control but look at the hybrid technologies that are being developed, further to that composite materials have come leaps and bounds due to Formula 1. Just look at UCI legal bicycles, in most cases ballast has to be added to make these bikes legal for Tour de France level competitions, Boeing has developed a CFRP aircraft, BMW has been incorporating this technology into their automotive technology and the list can go on. I’m not saying Formula 1 is responsible for all of this but understand that in any industry if you allow your creative minds free reign without restriction some very interesting things can happen.

      I give kudos to the “little guys”, the sport needs them, yes they come and go but the odd one will make it and stick around (ie. Bruce McLaren, Frank Williams). They had ambition, innovation, and someone who gave them a chance. I agree we need some restrictions, whether through rules, limited PU’s, restricted testing, etc etc., but fact of the matter do you think a business like Ferrari, McLaren, Mercedes, Renault, Honda, will be affected whether Formula 1 exists or doesn’t? They are all in the game regardless if racing existed or not to develop and accelerate technology in their respective business’s. Our automotive industry has seen leaps and bounds of trickle down technologies, look at a base model car across the board, (LCD touch screen, Navigation, engine management efficiencies) this is all a result of large corporations making this technology more and more affordable over the years through their LARGE DEVELOPMENT BUDGETS. We should be thanking them.

      Anyways, let the sport evolve in whatever way it may go, the teams will speak out, they will manage themselves, whatever “gimmicks” they have to incorporate to add to the spectacle so be it (everyone has DRS so who cares, unfortunately this is what is needed right now). Stop criticizing the team or engine manufacture that got the leg up on the competition, its cyclical (Mclaren domination, Ferrari domination, Red Bull domination, Mercedes domination, heck we could go on throughout the decades).

      Enjoy the sport, continue to be a fan, introduce the sport to new comers, any one of us could be the next Senna, Newey, Wolff, Todt, or anything else. Just my two cents.

    15. Reading Stef’s comment made me think how similar F1 fans are with F1 team principals.

    16. I don’t agree with the COTD. I’m more with @montreal95 and @socksolid on this. Yes, F1 should always be the pinnacle, but within a set of boundaries. These boundaries should be set by the FIA (and not the teams). Right now they should work towards less dependency on aero downforce (or rather reducing the “dirty-air-issue” to improve overtaking), less complexity of the drive trains (to enable more teams to join and potentially have less dominance) and less (electronic) driver aids. Within those boundaries there will always be new innovations. The team wizards will find their ways…

    17. Vergne should still be in F1. He may seem bitter, but I was bitter myself that he was dropped. There was nothing between him and Ricciardo. I don’t need to say that here though – as we are well aware. Obviously there were not many seats to come by, and his attitude was not as Shiny and Sunny as Danny boy (also one of my favorite characters).

      Glad that he’s leading the FE championship and always been a contender there. Still shows he’s an excellent driver.

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