Fernando Alonso brands F1 ‘brutal’ with ’19 drivers’ crowning Max Verstappen champion

Jamie Woodhouse
Red Bull's Max Verstappen smiles towards the camera.

Max Verstappen smiles towards camera.

Fernando Alonso says all drivers not named Max Verstappen have ruled themselves out of F1 2024 title contention, claiming this realisation is a “brutal” reality of Formula 1.

Verstappen has very much made this his F1 era, with three World titles won on the trot as he heads into F1 2024 as firm favourite to make that four.

And while Ferrari may have set the ultimate pace of Bahrain pre-season testing, the widely-held belief across the paddock is that Red Bull once more has the fastest challenger, having surprisingly moved away from their ultra-successful concept which many rivals took inspiration from.

Fernando Alonso: ’19 drivers now believe won’t be World Champion’

The Red Bull RB20 sports resemblance to Mercedes’ unsuccessful ‘zeropod’ concept in its shaping around the sidepods and cooling, but few are expecting this route to backfire like it did for Mercedes, with the likes of Lewis Hamilton, George Russell, Charles Leclerc and Lando Norris stating their belief that Red Bull are the pacesetters.

Verstappen’s Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez has done little to suggest over past seasons that he can take the title fight to Verstappen, so Alonso thinks across the grid drivers will have decided already that they will not contend for the F1 2024 World Championship, himself included it seems, with all-eyes on Red Bull to see if those fears are confirmed.

Pressed for his F1 2024 predictions following the three-day Bahrain test, Alonso, as per RacingNews365.com, said: “I don’t have a crystal ball to know what the others are doing.

“I think Max is the World Champion and Red Bull is dominating the sport. Also, the concept that they presented this year, it’s also a surprise.

“At the moment, we just have to watch them and see how they perform.

“I think 19 drivers in the paddock now will think that [they] will not win the championship.

“It happens 99% of the time in your career. This is a brutal sport.”

PlanetF1.com recommends

The many milestones Max Verstappen can reach in F1 2024 season

F1 race engineers: Who do we hear speaking to all 20 F1 drivers on team radio?

Verstappen has been asked directly how he feels the RB20 stacks up against the RB19 in terms of performance, considering these major design changes.

Rivals would of course loved to have heard that it had taken Red Bull backwards, but no, Verstappen said the RB20 is an improvement.

“If it would have been worse then we did a very bad job, so I know for sure the car is better than last year’s car,” Verstappen told media including PlanetF1.com’s Thomas Maher in Bahrain with a laugh, before adding: “But I think everyone on the grid has a better car than last year.”

Should Verstappen retain the title in F1 2024, then he will equal Sebastian Vettel’s streak of four in a row with Red Bull between 2010-13.

Read next: Mercedes would ‘deeply love’ to solve mystery of new Red Bull RB20 feature