Fernando Alonso offers key insight to astounding F1 career longevity

Thomas Maher
Fernando Alonso pictured after qualifying for the 2023 Belgian Grand Prix.

Fernando Alonso's astonishly long F1 career continues into 2024, with no signs of him slowing down.

Fernando Alonso’s record-breakingly long F1 career rumbles on into 2024, and the Spaniard has shared just how he does it.

Alonso will turn 43 years old during the F1 2024 season, having made his debut as a wide-eyed rookie at the 2001 Australian Grand Prix racing for Minardi. Aside from a spell as a test driver with Benetton in 2002 and two years away from F1 in 2019 and ’20, Alonso has been a constant presence on the grid and, usually near the front.

Given the relentless nature of the calendar, particularly in recent years as the number of races has swollen upward of 20 annually, Alonso has shared some insights into how he has managed to keep going for so long in such a demanding sport.

Fernando Alonso: I regulate myself more than ever

Alonso gave an in-depth interview to the official Aston Martin website, in which he explained how he has tried to pace himself away from the racetrack far more than he did when he was a younger driver.

“Yes. 100 percent,” he said when asked about whether careful management is the key to his longevity.

“When you’re young, you make some mistakes: you try to do everything, you try to be everywhere, but you can’t do that and then perform at your maximum and be 100 percent when the time comes to drive the car.

“Now, I think I regulate more than ever. I know what affects me, and what drains my battery, and I try to be as efficient as possible.

“We live a very different life Monday to Thursday and then Thursday to Sunday. It’s like there is a completely different person inside your body and mind. I can relax and be like a normal 42-year-old man at the start of the week, and then Thursday to Sunday, be a totally focused driver.”

Alonso has started 378 Grands Prix, having entered 381, and has raced over 20 thousand laps during his F1 career – more than any other driver.

 

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Despite this, he shows absolutely no signs of slowing down or an abating hunger for F1 – consistently proving himself to be one of the most relentless drivers on track as he refuses to cede position easily, while hunting down those in front.

Given he’s currently on a rebuild journey with Aston Martin as the Silverstone-based squad try to become a leading team, Alonso pointed to his recent two years away from F1 as helping him keep his focus.

“I had these two years out of the sport in 2019-20,” he said.

“I think it reset everything. I recharged the batteries, and I came back in 2021 with fresh motivation and that’s still fresh right now. I think without that break, it would be difficult to keep up the motivation and the training and everything else.

“I’m a very competitive person. I like to set goals and targets. Ultimately, I want to win, we all do, but even when that seems unlikely, I set personal challenges: maybe finishing in the top five is possible, maybe a podium. That provides plenty of motivation.”

Fernando Alonso: I know where to expend and save my energy

Having made some bad team calls in the past – joining outfits whose competitiveness was on the wane or not there in the first place – Alonso said his joining of Aston Martin as they go through an upward swoop is making F1 all the more enjoyable.

“I feel like I’m enjoying it maybe more than ever, and I go to the races with a different spirit,” he said.

“A lot of that is to do with the team. It’s very young, very enthusiastic, and there’s a lot of good energy in the garage and back at Silverstone. The new campus provides a lot of motivation – it’s a real statement about the ambition of the team.

“Also, thanks to my experience, I know what is important and what is less important, and I know where to expend my energy and where to save it. It’s important to be able to focus on performance on Sunday but also to ensure there is a good team spirit and good morale in the garage. I’m enjoying every part of the job.”

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