Unique Fernando Alonso trait revealed by his former McLaren F1 mechanic

Sam Cooper
Fernando Alonso speaks to his mechanics.

Fernando Alonso is the most experienced driver in F1 history.

A former McLaren mechanic believes Fernando Alonso is the only driver who could set up a car himself, such is the interest the two-time World Champion pays to the technical side of F1.

Just how much a driver cares about the technical setup can vary with some happy to hop in and go while others are keen to know exactly what is going on and why.

Alonso, it seems, is very much part of the second category with his former number-two mechanic revealing what the two-time World Champion was like to work with.

Fernando Alonso trait revealed by former McLaren mechanic

Josh Roles was a number-two mechanic at McLaren during Alonso’s second spell at McLaren and was one of four staff members assigned to the Spaniard’s car. As to what he was like to work with, Roles said Alonso possess a rare quality.

“He is a legend of the sport, isn’t he?” he told the Pondering Papaya podcast. “Fernando is great. He talks his mind, which is good, because we found that he is one of the rare drivers that can set a car up.

“He comes back and he tells a performance engineer this is what we need to do, not to the exact kind of millimetre of adjustment, but he is very, very, very good at feedback.

“Whereas a lot of the younger drivers, they probably tell the race engineer a bit more about how they feel about the car and the race engineer then has to decipher that.”

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As for what he was like away from the track, Roles said they did not have much to do with the driver given how busy their schedule is.

“It’s tough, we don’t really have much to do with the drivers outside of them driving the car,” Roles, who started life at McLaren GT before moving to the F1 team, said. “But they have to trust that we have built them a car that they can go 300-odd kilometres an hour in, and it’s going to be reliable.

“So there is a lot of trust there. They do take you for dinner as a group and things like that at particular races of the season.

“But the drivers have crazy lives, right? They get in the car, they race the car on the track, they then get out, they feed back to the engineers, do all that then they go and do their PR and then at the end of the day, they disappear off whilst we’re building the car.

“But that’s what it is, they have their areas where they’re busy, we have areas where we’re busy. There’s not too much crossover outside of the car, which I guess is probably quite normal for all teams I’d say.”

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