Trouble for Fernando Alonso? Eddie Jordan warns F1 is ‘making a very serious mistake’

Oliver Harden
Fernando Alonso adjusts his cap

Aston Martin driver Fernando Alonso adjusts his cap

Former team owner Eddie Jordan has claimed Fernando Alonso’s new Aston Martin contract is a sign that F1 is making “a very serious mistake” by making modern cars too easy to drive.

Having been linked to both Red Bull and Mercedes, Alonso committed his long-term future to Aston Martin earlier this month by signing a new multi-year deal with the team until at least the end of the 2026 season.

Fernando Alonso ‘would have retired by now’ with old F1 cars

The Spaniard’s new contract will take him past his 45th birthday and is poised to make Alonso – who began his career with Minardi in 2001 – the oldest driver to race in F1 on a permanent basis for some time.

Appearing on the Formula For Success podcast alongside former McLaren and Red Bull driver David Coulthard, Jordan fears Alonso’s decision to stay is a clear sign that F1 is heading in the wrong direction with its technical rules.

And he believes young drivers such as Oliver Bearman, who excelled in a substitute appearance for Carlos Sainz at last month’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, are being “cheated” out of a chance to shine by older drivers like Alonso sticking around.

PlanetF1.com recommends

Follow PlanetF1.com’s WhatsApp channel for all the F1 breaking news!

Revealed: How the F1 2024 standings would look with a new points system

Asked if Alonso’s stay is a good thing or whether the two-time World Champion is hanging on for too long, Jordan said: “Hanging on, I think, but he’s able to drive the car as quickly as anyone else, so why shouldn’t he? I can see people for and against it.

“Where I’m against it is not his fault. I’m blaming the cars. I’ll never say a Formula 1 car is easy to drive, but it is easier to drive [today].

“You don’t see the bull [being taken by the horns] like, for example, Nigel Mansell, when he was just about able to get out of the car because his neck was hanging off.

“David, you were around in this era when fitness was such an important thing.

“I think at, 45 years of age, if you asked Alonso to go back into a car that is similar [to] 20-odd years ago, I think he would have retired by now and I think a young, up-and-coming person would have had a chance.

“No reflection on Alonso – it’s not his fault – but I do believe that Formula 1 is making a very serious mistake.

“And that is that the cars – and the new rules with the weight of the car – don’t sound right, they’re too heavy, they’re easier to drive than what we remember and all you’re doing is playing into the hands of the older driver because it makes much more sense to hang on to what you got and what you know is better than what you don’t know.

“I used to have this argument with [ex-McLaren boss] Ron Dennis all the time. He changed afterwards because he gave Lewis Hamilton the chance, but up to then he always had somebody that had been somewhere before or giving them a chance.

“I just think that young drivers are being cheated. They are being cheated. They need to get the chance.

“What is the point in having a very strong Formula 2 championship? There’s maybe five Oliver Bearmans out there that we know ourselves.

“David, your own son – what chance has he got of making Formula 1 in the current situation? And why are people spending fortunes on their children and sponsors and various other things trying to get to Formula 1 when there’s zero chance?

“Formula 1 needs to show that the drivers who won these races [worked hard for it].

“What is difficult to accept is that Max [Verstappen] is winning these races by 11 seconds, but it could be just as easily be 25 seconds if he decided to keep up the push.”

Coulthard, who claimed 13 victories in 246 F1 starts between 1994 and 2008, explained that the absence of in-race refuelling and the thermally sensitive Pirelli tyres are two key reasons why the cars are routinely driven below their absolute pace in race conditions.

And he claimed last year’s Qatar Grand Prix, where a number of drivers struggled in intense heat, is proof that drivers need to examined physically behind the wheel of an F1 car.

He said: “It’s definitely a very competitive route to Formula 1 with only 20 cars.

“I think Fernando is an exceptional driver and I think what he does is offer a benchmark – primarily for his team-mate as that’s the only person with the same car – but he’s still a benchmark for these younger drivers who do make it to Formula 1.

“The thing to try and explain is because the lap-time difference between qualifying and the race is initially so big, the physicality of driving the car is in the lap time.

“So the faster the lap time, the higher the g-forces and the more energy and therefore the more physicality.

“We would have maybe two seconds difference between qualifying and then the start of the grand prix because we had refueling, so we didn’t start the race with a lot of fuel onboard – sometimes 30-40 kilograms of fuel, whereas they’ve got up to 100 kilograms of fuel onboard [today].

“Ten kilograms is about three tenths, three-and-a-half tenths depending on the circuit, so you’ve got several seconds in weight of the car just in the fuel alone.

“Plus you throw in the fact that the Pirelli tyres need to be thermally managed, so they back away to keep the tyres in shape as well, so they are well within their physical capabilities at the beginning of the grand prix.

“Very often, you’ll see them get out after a race and their hair is not even wet – they haven’t even been sweating in the car.

“Of course, this generation are all exceptional – every generation should be better than the previous – so I’m not saying that the drivers are not talented. Of course not. They’re exceptional and we’ve got people like Fernando and Lewis who come from the previous generation of cars.

“But the cars are getting heavy and that makes them slower. And the amount of energy their drivers then dispel means they’re just not working quite as hard in the cockpit.

“Which is why when we had the race in Qatar where everyone was complaining about the heat – and some members of the public were saying it was scandalous, they shouldn’t be made to drive in those conditions – well people do ultra-marathons, people do the Dakar.

“Ask Carlos Sainz Sr: late nights, early mornings, sleeping in a tent.

“I think that being pushed mentally and physically to your limit is part of being an athlete and I think that therefore you should have extreme events that challenge you in that way.”

Read next: Theo Pourchaire’s IndyCar tale shines a spotlight on Formula 1’s greatest shame