Michael Schumacher comeback gave Fernando Alonso doubts about own F1 return

Sam Cooper
Fernando Alonso and Michael Schumacher. 2006.

Fernando Alonso and Michael Schumacher shake hands ahead of the 2006 Brazilian Grand Prix.

Fernando Alonso said the struggles Michael Schumacher went through with his F1 comeback made the Spaniard doubt whether he should return.

Alonso left McLaren in what was presumed to be his final F1 season in 2018 but returned three years later as he reunited with his former Renault side, now named Alpine.

But the Spaniard has now revealed that when mulling over his comeback, it was another former World Champion that gave him cause for concern.

Schumacher retired in 2006, moving upstairs at Ferrari to become an advisor before leaving the team in 2009 to join Mercedes for the following 2010 season.

The combination of a renewed interest in F1 and the ability to complete a lifelong goal of racing for Mercedes was enough to tempt the seven-time World Champion back but it was not all smooth sailing.

The German finished ninth in his first season back, his lowest finish for a full-time campaign at that point, before improving to eighth in 2011.

His final season ended with a 13th place finish in the Drivers’ standings before he made way for Lewis Hamilton to join the team.

Alonso had that image in his mind when he was debating whether to come back and said he did not want to come back if he was not able to perform at his best.

“I remembered Michael,” Alonso said, as per Motorsport-Total.com. “When he came back, maybe he wasn’t 100 percent anymore – at least that was the feeling.

“I had a lot of self-confidence, but not so much that I was 100 percent sure that I would be fast enough to drive at the highest level.”

Alonso need not have worried as he showed plenty of flashes of his former brilliance in 2021. Again in 2022, he was back to his best even if at times the car did not match his level.

“Last year I didn’t perform at my best level, felt uncomfortable at times and had to overcome some challenges, while this year I was almost at 100 percent.

“I’m satisfied with the two years [at Alpine]. That gives me momentum for the future. I’m very grateful to Alpine for giving me this chance.”

Alonso, who has the most grands prix of any driver under his belt, now moves to Aston Martin where he will race on at the age of 41.

Read more: Fernando Alonso – Hungary 2021 ‘will never happen again in a hundred years’