How Alonso races to first place

2012-10-25 11:49

Fernando Alonso is a two-time Formula One world champion and one of the current leaders in this year’s F1 standings. Sasha Martinengo, SuperSport F1 presenter and motor-racing specialist, explains why the Spanish driver is one of the modern giants of his trade, and destined for greater things.

1. A good start
When Fernando arrived in Formula One in 2001, fans immediately saw a determined and skilful man behind the wheel.

Four years later, he won the Formula One world drivers’ championship at 24 – at the time, the youngest to do so.

The fact that Fernando then beat Michael Schumacher in 2005 and 2006, when the latter was already an all-time great, showed what a brilliant talent the Spaniard is.

2. Man vs machine

A good test for a driver is how well he performs in a substandard car.

Ayrton Senna showed his brilliance in the Toleman, Lotus and McLaren. Michael Schumacher burst onto the scene with Benetton; when he joined Ferrari, it was in the doldrums and he managed to grow the team.

Fernando made a statement in his first-ever race with Minardi, and everyone knew he was special.

3. All-round adaptability
Currently the Ferrari is not the best car, but what Fernando has done with what he has been given is miraculous.

Ferrari has worked tirelessly to improve the car. Fernando has a methodical and calculated approach to racing, thinking about everything, but not at the expense of his speed.

If he knows he hasn’t got the quickest car, he adapts and finds other ways of winning.

4. In it to win it

One of his greatest assets is that he’s very focused.

He may not be as meticulous as seven-time champion Schumacher was, but he is still a very hands-on Formula One driver.

Comparing him to former greats is difficult, but he is definitely more like Senna in style – more aggressive – than Alain Prost. Sometimes it gets him into trouble because he attempts to pass too early, but he is also street-wise and flexible.

5. Outgunning his rivals

Both Fernando and Sebastian Vettel, also a two-time world champion, are great.

Sebastian is supreme in his race strategy and delivery. But if you compare the two, especially in 2012, Fernando has the ability to drive around and negotiate problems better than Sebastian.

That means that if the car is over- or under-steering, or if the tyres have less grip in certain corners, he will change his driving style in order to get the best out of the car.

6. Complete package

Few people know how hard Fernando trains to maintain peak physical shape.

It is vital, because motor racing is extremely demanding on the body.

He also has the mental drive to excel. To be a champion, you have to want to be a champion, and Fernando is extremely motivated.

He is decisive on the track, understands his car and is a very versatile driver.

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