Carlos Sainz sees that Fernando Alonso is leading the popularity vote in their native Spain, but he perfectly understands why.
In recent years it has been Sainz at the forefront of Spain’s Formula 1 hopes as a Ferrari driver, winning for the first time at the 2022 British Grand Prix, that a season where he also claimed a further eight podium finishes.
All the while Alonso was fighting to pick up the scraps in the midfield-running Alpine, but with his F1 2023 switch to Aston Martin thrusting Alonso back into the podium scene, his fans back in Spain, where he and Sainz both hail from, are out in full enthusiastic force once more.
Alonso has featured in five of the seven podiums so far this season, with a P2 in Monaco representing his best result, and though he was unable to get near the top three at the most recent attempt, his home race at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, the support of the home crowd did not waver.
Sainz though made it clear that there is no feeling of jealousy from him as Alonso basks in the limelight of their nation’s support.
“I see it and I understand it perfectly,” he said on Cadena SER’s ‘El Larguero’ podcast.
“It is natural, he has been a two-time World Champion. So it’s not something that bothers or worries me.”
Since Alonso claimed his titles in 2005 and 2006 with Renault, his wait for a third has dragged on, his first stint at McLaren and Ferrari spell producing a couple of near-misses, while more recently McLaren and Alpine reunions, the latter formerly Renault, have failed to get him anywhere near the title scene.
And though Aston Martin are not at that level yet, this is a team which surged from the midfield to being the second-fastest team out of the gate in F1 2023, renewing hope that at the very least, Alonso’s decade-plus wait for a 33rd career victory will come to an end.
Sainz then believes that Alonso will be enjoying the fact that the fans have now “re-engaged” with his F1 career.
“The only thing I want to emphasise is that I am in Formula 1 for myself, but also for Spain, to give my country podiums and victories,” Sainz stated.
“But for Fernando, after so many years in Formula 1, seeing that people have re-engaged has to be very nice. I think he is enjoying it.”
Alonso currently sits P3 in the Drivers’ Championship on 99 points, 18 behind Red Bull’s Sergio Perez but 71 behind runaway leader Max Verstappen in the other Red Bull RB19.
Sainz meanwhile is 41 points adrift of Alonso down in P6.