Fernando Alonso wasn’t about to accept the idea that he’s a self-centered driver, and he had the facts to back him up.
The two-time World Champion is often regarded as one of the best Formula 1 has seen, yet people have also pointed to his poor career choices and at times selfishness as the factors which held him back from winning more titles.
Recently his former team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne said the Spaniard made McLaren all about him during their time with the team from 2017-18.
But Alonso doesn’t believe he is self-centered, pointing to the clashes at Ferrari between Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc this year, and arguing this never happened during his time with the Scuderia.
Speaking at the FIA Prize Gala, he said: “I think the reputation is always one thing and the facts are different.
“When you see crashing team-mates, and things like that, as we saw this year and you see every year between team-mates, and then my images, you will see the slipstream [I gave] at Monza and slipstream in Spa.
“I know these collaborations. So when we talk about reputation, it is better if we look at the facts.”
Alonso won the 2018-19 World Endurance Championship crown alongside ex-F1 stars Kazuki Nakajima and Sebastien Buemi, but Alonso says from the start he was honest with them about his limitations.
“It was not a problem to share with these two guys because obviously, they had the experience in endurance,” he said.
“They taught me a lot from the first day of testing. They knew about the car and you knew about the circuit, and they knew about their approach on long distance races. I was the one always making the mistakes or making the questions.
“It’s not that I was happy jumping out of the car, because I always want to drive, but every time that I was jumping out of the car and they were going in, it was like less stress for me because I knew they were doing the right things. So it was a lot of trust between us.”
Next up for Alonso is the Dakar Rally – his preparations are going well after he secured a maiden podium finish in cross-country rallying at the Al Ula-Neom Cross-Country Rally in Saudi Arabia.
But, he knows Dakar is going to prove a huge challenge, and he spelt out what he felt ready to achieve, and what he didn’t.
“Listen, if I go there, to enjoy the experience – yes. If I go there to make the most of it – yes. But if I think of it in terms of winning Dakar, I don’t feel ready,” he admitted.
“I’m perfectly aware of both my lack of experience. I think you know, there are races that I attempted, like Indy, or Le Mans or Daytona, I felt quite competitive and that I could good fight for victory. In Dakar I don’t think I’m at that level.
“But I will play a different strategy. I will not be the fastest but hopefully I will be in a good position in the end.”