‘Cheeky’ Alonso ‘up to his old tricks’ in Baku, says Hill

Sam Cooper
Fernando Alonso sticks his tongue out. Baku, June 2022.

Alpine's Fernando Alonso sticks his tongue out before the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Baku, June 2022.

Damon Hill said Fernando Alonso was “up to his old tricks” in Baku after Alex Albon accused him of deliberately leaving the track during qualifying.

After the Spaniard caused a yellow flag and sent Albon out of qualifying at the earliest opportunity, the Williams driver went on the team radio to encourage the steward to penalise him. Albon also said it was “ridiculous” and “so obvious” how he went off the track.

Alonso denied the claims, saying similar had happened to him in the past and instead suggested a change to the qualifying format, but it no doubt benefitted the Alpine driver who had his place in Q2 secured as a result.

Now Hill has suggested Alonso knew exactly what he was up to when he left the track.

“I like him, he’s so cunning,” Hill said on the F1 Nation podcast. “Alex Albon called him an incredibly smart guy because he was up to games in qualifying.

“He was definitely up to his old tricks but we can’t not have a sneaking admiration for the trickster. That guy who somehow can play everything to his own advantage and he does it with a little cheeky smile as well.

“And he performs, it’s not like he’s being a nuisance and not delivering, he’s delivering. He delivers for Alpine and I’d rather have him in [the team] than outside and doing the same to you.

Alonso had suggested he would be open to switch a top team even if it meant playing second fiddle to someone like Max Verstappen but while that seems unlikely given the two-time World Champion’s age, Hill said he has shown no signs of slowing down despite nearing his 41st birthday in July.

“Exhaustion doesn’t seem to have set in, does it? Or lack of enthusiasm. If you said to him now you’ve got one more crack at the front end, he would jump at it, he’d be there and he’d probably win.

“So the problem is for a top team, how long is he going to be there for? And how much carnage will there be once he starts to, which he tends to do, get involved in the running of the company and the politics of it?

“He definitely overstepped the mark when he was at McLaren in the first age [stint] and also in Ferrari.”