Posts Tagged ‘Alonso’

Fernando Alonso interests me greatly, as regular readers will know, particularly his pronouncements and predictions. He rarely wastes his breath on hype or pr. He’s focussed on what is possible and regularly achieves it, as he showed at the end of last season when he took sensational wins in Singapore and Japan.



To see today that he still believes Renault can develop quickly enough for him to have a crack at the title is very interesting.

“It’s still an early stage in the year and already the team has made incredible progress, which gives me the belief that we can still fight for the championship. We will have more updates when we get back to Europe, but at this stage in the year it’s important that we score as many points as possible at each race so we can be in the fight at the end of the season, ” he said this morning in a Renault statement.

Last year Renault started the season with a poor car, the result of some problems and disruptions in the aero department as much as anything else. But boy did they improve the car over the year. Despite having an engine which was clearly not the best, they came up with the right car in the end.

This year they again started poorly, the car was not right in the first tests, but even by the start of the season it was getting closer to the pace and Alonso’s performance in qualifying in China, not just the low fuel final run, but the whole hour, was impressive. Renault had a version of the double diffuser and other updates in China and will have more over the coming races.

Part of his reason for saying this today is to motivate his team, of course, but as I said he’s not given to empty promises and he must realise that with the updates he knows about, he can have a car with which he can challenge. Alonso has never had the best car in F1, but he’s shown consistently that if the car is in the ball park, he knows all the tricks and ruses to win races.

He’s 17 points behind championship leader Jenson Button after three races and will have to rely on the pace of development at Brawn falling away. He reason to believe is, as he said in China, that this season with everything being so new, every update will have an effect on the pecking order, so we will see teams going up and down.

Of the big names from the ‘top teams’ he and Lewis Hamilton are the only ones to have got properly off the mark and he clearly thinks that he can be in the hunt come November. No doubt expecting McLaren, Ferrari and BMW to do likewise. As I said on Sunday, we could end up this season with four or five teams at the front, because of the relative pace they’ve all started at. That is an exciting prospect.

With two rain affected races in a row it’s been hard to pin down the gaps in performance between the top cars. Some are relatively better in qualifying trim than race trim, but hopefully on Sunday we’ll get a good read on how many tenths Renault are behind Brawn and then we’ll know what they have to aim at.

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Little snippet caught my eye today in the Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper.

Flavio Briatore was on Italian radio, talking about the stories that Alonso has already signed for Ferrari for 2011 (with an option to drive in 2010 if Raikkonen has another poor season). If you want to learn more about this story, by the way, scroll down to a post I did on it at the very end of December.

I’m not sure which way he would prefer it, talking about his star driver once it’s been confirmed he’s going to the opposition (2006 season) or talking about him with just strong and persistent rumour that he’s going. I’ll ask him on Thursday in Geneva, if I get a chance…anyway here’s what he said.

“It’s like a soap opera,” Briatore said of the story, “One that they keep preparing but which never gets broadcast. I think that a driver should always want to drive for Ferrari and if he wins this year with Renault, I will be more relaxed seeing him at Ferrari. If it happens, it happens.”

It will happen.

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This is a question I have noticed that lot of my readers have been asking on search engines which have led them here, so I thought I’d do a quick post with the answer.

I had a word with a mate of mine who is an agent representing premiership footballers and I looked through my files on drivers and through the estimated figures in Formula Money, which has some good research into the financial side of the sport.

The answer is that the top drivers earn far more than the top premiership stars, but of course there are far more top footballers than F1 stars.

Top of the F1 tree is Kimi Raikkonen, who is believed to earn around $36 million £24m) per season, with Fernando Alonso on $24 million (£16m) and Lewis Hamilton understood to be on around £12 million. Jenson Button was trousering £12 million from Honda. Heikki Kovalainen gets around $5 million (£3.4m). A front of midfield driver, like Mark Webber, earns $4 million (£2.75m) with drivers like Kazuki Nakajima on around £500,000.

No premiership player is close to Raikkonen; the top earners like John Terry and Frank Lampard are on around £6 million per year, Steven Gerrard gets around £5 million. Christiano Ronaldo earns £4 million. Like F1, the sport rewards its stars disproportionately compared with the average competitor. The average premiership salary is £500,000 per year. All of these figures are for the salary, not including the endorsements that many drivers and players have.

So the bottom line is, the top premiership stars earn roughly the same as the midfield guys in F1.

It’s only a quick look at the picture, but hope that answers your question.

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Superfit Alonso aims high

It’s been a busy couple of days in the F1 world, with three car launches and some more rhetoric in the escalating war of words between Bernie Ecclestone and the F1 teams association, FOTA.

Let’s start with Renault. Fernando Alonso says he can win the championship with this car, he’s ecstatic about the wind tunnel figures, which say that the car should be very fast once they get it running against the opposition on a dry track.

Alonso is once again in the strange position of starting a season at Renault, with a contract in his pocket to drive for another team in the future, as he was when he won the 2006 world title. Of course many people are still denying that a Ferrari deal is done, while Alonso himself is saying, craftily, that he has been asked this question now for five years (true) so nothing changes and he is focussed on the season ahead.

It would be churlish to dwell on what happens next year or 2011, when Renault have put in a great effort to build him a winning car. He seems pretty bullish about his chances this season and why not? Renault made up a lot of ground last season as they finally got to grips with the Bridgestone tyres and with the aerodynamic problems they had built in to the car by mistake. And with the FIA and the other teams allowing them to bring their engine up to everyone else’s level (a special dispensation) they have every chance to compete this season with Ferrari, McLaren and BMW. In Alonso they have a proven champion and just to show he’s really serious he’s lost 3 kilos over the winter. Every little counts, as they say, and with extra driver weight a handicap in a car already bloated with the weight of a KERS system, those three kilos could save him a tenth of a second.

He’s also worked hard on building up his shoulder muscles because he expects a more physical challenge from the grip level of the slick tyres.

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Formula 1 is setting itself up for a great on-track rivalry to match the classic Senna-Prost duel of the early 1990s.

My good friend and colleague Pino Allievi is writing in La Gazetta dello Sport in Italy that Fernando Alonso has a four year contract with Ferrari starting 2011, but with clauses which allow that contract to be brought forward one year to 2010. This will bring Alonso into a head-to-head duel with his nemesis, Lewis Hamilton, with blood red Ferraris and Silver Arrows the weapons of choice.

I have known Pino for almost 20 years and in that time I’m struggling to think of a single occasion on which he has wrongly called a move by Ferrari. He has excellent connections there, going back to Enzo Ferrari’s time.

So you can take it as read that this story is true. And it will really shake things up in F1.

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I note that at the recent Mercedes Stars and Cars bash in Stuttgart Lewis Hamilton alluded to a visit he received from his former team mate Fernando Alonso shortly after the race in Sao Paulo last week. The Spaniard came to offer him his congratulations on winning the world title and Hamilton says that Alonso even went so far as to hug him.

By chance I was walking down the paddock ten yards behind Alonso as he left the Renault garage area in the open part of the paddock, heading down towards the tight, narrow warren which houses the ‘midfield’ teams. There was something about his stride which suggested that he had a purpose in mind and sure enough, when he arrived outside the back of the McLaren garage, he met up with Mclaren test driver Pedro de la Rosa. The pair shook hands and went inside, where the scene Hamilton described took place.

It was obviously pre-arranged between the Spanish pair, but it was curious to know whether Alonso texted De La Rosa asking him to escort him in there, perhaps when Lewis was confirmed as being there and Ron Dennis was safely out of view – or whether the initiative came from Pedro. [ more ]

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