Double F1 World Champion Fernando Alonso has responded to recent slights against his character by asserting that he is in the sport 'not to make friends but to achieve many titles' – as he concedes that he is so happy at Ferrari that he even takes pleasure in 'finishing 23rd'.
Following the allegation in Tom Bowers' new book No Angel: The Secret Life Of Bernie Ecclestone
that ahead of the 2007 Hungarian Grand Prix, Alonso asked McLaren-Mercedes team principal Ron Dennis to sabotage team-mate and bitter arch-rival Lewis Hamilton's car in a desperate bid to boost his own title hopes at the expense of the Briton's [see separate story – click here
], Scuderia Toro Rosso ace Jaime Alguersuari stressed that he and his countryman, who he has previously described as 'very cold', are emphatically 'not friends'.
Alonso, though, insists that's fine by him, as he is not in F1 to form lasting personal bonds.
“I'm not racing to make friends but to achieve many titles,” the 29-year-old – seemingly never far from controversy – told Spanish sports daily Marca
. “Let's see if I win enough to be remembered. If not, I will still retire very happy, proud of the experience.”
Alonso went on to reflect upon his time at Ferrari to-date, revealing that 'I expected a team of legend and magic and it has been a pleasant surprise, even better than I expected' and assuring that 'I am in no hurry to [leave] here...I even enjoy finishing second, eighth and 23rd'.
The Spaniard tempered that a touch, however, by confessing that he does have some misgivings with the way in which F1 has transformed itself over the past few decades from a pure gladiatorial sport into a billion-pound global business.
“It's not just racing,” he acknowledged. “F1 is also very much business and other interests. It's not a competition, pure and simple. Cars are not equal, the rules are not equal for all – but we know this and accept it because this is perhaps some of the charm of F1.”
Reminiscing further, Alonso rated the 2009 Renault R29 'the worst' car he has ever driven in the top flight since making his grand prix debut a decade ago – and the Enstone-based outfit's 2004 and 2005 models the best.
“There was the war with the Bridgestone and Michelin tyres that made us a couple of seconds faster, already with 900 horsepower,” he recalled. “Even with the inferior aerodynamics that we had six years ago compared to today, in Cheste (Valencia) we were doing 1m08s, compared to 1m14s now – six seconds different. Those cars are hard to beat.”
The 26-time grand prix-winner also admitted that he had the opportunity to join Prost Grand Prix rather than Minardi back in 2001 – with the carrot of a potential Ferrari test drive in the pipeline for afterwards – but he explained that the lack of assurances there contrasted with the prospect of promotion to Renault via his relationship with Flavio Briatore convinced him to take the Faenza route.
Looking ahead, finally, Alonso mused that F1 drivers' 'greatest sacrifice' is to 'dedicate our first 30 or 40 years exclusively' to racing, and whilst 'it will be hard to leave F1 one day because I've been driving all my life', he suggested that instead of eyeing a future team management role on the pit wall, he is more likely in retirement to look after the interests of a talented young driver or work with race driver education at his own kart circuit in Asturias – or even simply just enjoy himself.
“Today I would say no, because what I like is to drive,” he replied, when asked about the team management possibility. “I think I will prefer to spend the weekends having fun in a kart rather than doing some other job.”