Fernando Alonso has never shied away from voicing his belief that the current batch of Formula 1 cars pale in comparison to those from a decade ago, and the Spaniard has once again said he could quit the sport if racing doesn’t become more enjoyable.
A two-time World Champion, Alonso has been a mainstay on the F1 grid since making his debut in 2001, turning out in 264 races. And so, the McLaren driver is well placed to compare the machinery at his disposal now with that which he began his career with – and the comparison isn’t favourable for modern cars.
“I think in the last couple of years especially with this turbo engine era I think the car is a little different to drive,” he said in a press conference ahead of this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix.
“I don’t say that’s better or worse, everyone will have his opinion, I’ve been lucky enough to drive 2003 cars, 2004, 5 even until 2009 the cars were in my opinion more extreme, more Formula 1 cars.
“Now when I see GP2 running three seconds away or something like that in FP1 it feels a little bit sad.
“The cars are heavy, no grip, we save fuel, we save tyres, we save everything from lap one so it’s a little bit against the instinct of the driver.
He added: “But probably because I drove older cars: if you arrive now to Formula One then the cars now are very fast and fun to drive but not for me anymore.”
Alonso has spent much of the last two seasons closer to the back of the grid than the front due to McLaren’s struggles, but he has insisted that this is not the reason for his displeasure.
“It’s not related to whether you’re competitive or not or whether you’re out of Q1 or you are winning a championship it’s just whether you’re enjoying or not enjoying and right now in my opinion the cars are not enjoyable,” he said.
With a host of changes set to come into play in 2017, next season’s cars will be very different to the ones raced now, with cars to be wider, heavy and boast bigger tyres.
Should the changes not have a positive impact, the 2017 campaign could be Alonso’s last.
“Next year I finish my contract with McLaren – the one that I have now – so I will have to make a decision if continue in Formula 1 or not,” he said.
“I think with the new regs everything will change a little bit. I think if the cars are fun to drive, I will probably stay longer and drive more years in Formula One, and if the cars are still giving me the feeling that I have in the last couple of years probably I will stop.”