Brundle doubted Alonso return after gridwalk hug

Jon Wilde
Martin Brundle and Fernando Alonso. Abu Dhabi December 2020.

Martin Brundle and Fernando Alonso standing next to the 2005 Renault R25. Abu Dhabi December 2020.

Martin Brundle says he thought a hug on the grid at the end of 2018 might have been his last interaction with Fernando Alonso as an F1 driver.

But of course, after a sabbatical in 2019 and 2020, the two-time former World Champion returned to the sport last year and is now preparing to start a new season at the age of 40 with hopes of another title before he finally calls it quits.

Brundle believes if Alonso had the right car, he would definitely be a contender for that elusive third Drivers’ crown – and therefore thinks it is down to his team, Alpine, to provide him with suitable machinery.

“If he was in the Mercedes, I think he would have the potential for a World Championship,” said the Sky Sports pundit of the Spaniard, quoted by motorsport-total.com.

“The way he drives, he seems to have all the old aggressiveness.”

Fernando Alonso leaves the pits in the Alpine A522. Barcelona February 2022.
Alpine driver Fernando Alonso trundles down the pit lane heading out onto the track. Barcelona February 2022.

Alonso is contracted to Alpine only to the end of this season and so they will need to hit the ground running in this new era of regulations – or, failing that, make substantial improvement as the year goes on – if his championship itch is to be scratched.

Asked how many years he thinks Alonso has left in Formula 1, Brundle said: “I don’t know. He had already convinced me the last time that he’d had enough. How many years ago was that now? Five years ago or something?

“I remember interviewing him on the grid for his last race and he gave me a hug, which took me completely by surprise. That’s when I thought to myself ‘that’s it for him’.

“So I just don’t know. I think it might depend on how well Alpine get to grips with the car.”

 

Brundle does not see age as being a barrier because, he says, it is easier for drivers to keep themselves in prime physical condition compared to his era of the 1980s and 1990s.

“They are in such good shape mentally and physically, they drink and eat well. Age doesn’t play such a big part in that,” added the 62-year-old Briton.

“And the cars aren’t as physical as they were in my day, when you were constantly taking a few knocks.

“So they are in great shape and they are experienced, which is especially important in the context of a massive rule change like we have now.

“I think Fernando is still one of the best on the grid. Seb [Vettel] is also showing he can be quick.

“A Formula 1 grid always benefits from world-class drivers like these two and the young guns who emulate them.”

 

Alonso got the ‘wow’ factor on final day of testing

Fernando Alonso felt the 'wow' factor on the final day of pre-season testing.