McLaren boss Zak Brown says Fernando Alonso is “buzzing” ahead of the 2017 F1 season and he believes the Spaniard is still very much the “best driver in the world, period”.
Alonso has spent the last two seasons since re-joining McLaren battling for points and hasn't stood on the F1 podium now since Hungary 2014, when he was in his final season with Ferrari. Despite appearing “disillusioned at times”, however, Brown is adamant that is not the impression he has of the two-time F1 World Champion.
“I want to correct you: I don't see Fernando as disillusioned at all,” he said in an interview with the official Formula One site.
. “I don't know him well yet, but I've met him a few times, and phoned him too, and I can tell you that he's buzzing.
“Also, even though our car wasn't fully competitive last season, some of his drives were stunningly good. Look, I'll be frank: I reckon he's the best driver in the world, period.”
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Brown also believes that Stoffel Vandoorne will do well in his debut season, even though his performances will be judged relative to the formidable Alonso.
“Stoffel faces a serious test [with Alonso as his team-mate]. But, guess what, I think he'll pass it with flying colours,” Brown added. “Our personal trainers tell me he's probably the fittest driver we've ever had, and he's incredibly focused and determined. He's fiercely intelligent too - you never have to tell him anything twice.
“His Grand Prix debut in Bahrain last year was sensational - he out-qualified and out-raced Jenson [Button] despite having minimal time to prepare for the weekend. In fact he only arrived in Bahrain on the Friday morning, straight off a long two-flight journey from Japan via Dubai.
“I think Stoffel will surprise a few people. He's the real deal.”
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