The legendary father of Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz believes Fernando Alonso has earned the right to decide when he retires from F1.
Despite turning 42 in July, Alonso has enjoyed his most competitive season in years in 2023 by claiming seven podium finishes with the Aston Martin team.
However, Sainz was the one flying the flag for Spain at last weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix where the Ferrari star secured his second F1 victory with arguably the greatest drive of his career to date.
Fernando Alonso praised by Carlos Sainz’s father
Alonso, who became Spain’s first F1 World Champion in 2005, acted as something of a mentor to Sainz in his early career, though it has been claimed in 2023 that the relationship between them has suffered of late.
Sainz’s father, Carlos Sainz Sr, is Spain’s original motorsport icon having won two World Rally Championships in the early 1990s.
And having won the challenging Dakar Rally event as recently as 2020, the 61-year-old is in awe of Alonso’s longevity.
He told Sky Sports: “Fernando is a special guy and he’s proving that all the time, and I think it’s up to him when he retires.
“In one moment he decides he’s had enough, and then he came back, he proved he has the capacity to stay in Formula 1, and he has the right to decide until when.
“As a friend and as a fan of him myself, we need to respect him because he earned the right to decide whenever he wants [to retire]. And he is delivering this year. It’s no problem to stay in Formula 1, but it’s up to him to decide when he is tired or fed up.”
Alonso memorably took a sabbatical from F1 at the end of 2018, competing in the Dakar as well as the Le Mans 24 Hours and Indianapolis 500, before mounting a comeback with the Alpine team in 2021.
Sainz is convinced that Alonso’s extracurricular activities have made him a better driver – and is convinced that he can claim an elusive 33rd career win with Aston Martin.
However, Sainz has conceded that Red Bull’s current dominance makes it a difficult task.
“I believe so and, most importantly, he believes so,” he replied when asked if Alonso is now a better driver following his sabbatical.
“His experience in Le Mans and Dakar make him a more complete driver, he was doing very well in both specialities, so I think it was interesting for him to test other categories.
“If Aston Martin is giving him a good car, then, I’m sure he can fight for victory. The problem now is that [with] the domination of Red Bull the rest are struggling to follow the speed.”