WATCH | Did Alonso's bizarre steering technique help him win two F1 titles?

Fernando Alonso. Image: Youtube
Fernando Alonso. Image: Youtube

Fernando Alonso was once again linked with a return to Formula 1 after Daniel Ricciardo announced he would vacate his seat at Renault for a move to McLaren in 2021. 

And it's that seat at the French team that Alonso is intrinsically linked. It was the team he won drivers' world championship titles with in 2005 and 2006. 

It's those two seasons that YouTube channel Driver61 hones in on a recent video that's garnered over 750 000 views. Alonso portrayed a steering technique that was never seen in the sport before that period.

Massive confidence in the rear of the car

The Spaniard's style saw him aggressively turn the steering wheel into a corner, breaking traction on the front tyres intentionally which interfered with the balance and caused the car to understeer at the entry of the corner. 

But why did Alonso's unorthodox style reap big rewards? Driver61 says the R25 car Alonso drove had more grip on the rear tyres and this gave it a considerable advantage when powering out of tight corners like hairpins. 

Another factor is the rear suspension Renault developed in conjunction with another French company, tyre manufacturer Michelin. The Michelin rubber that was used had squarer shape compared to the Bridgestone used by Ferrari; this gave Alonso's car a big contact patch on the tarmac. 

Alonso then adapted his style to make the most of how the car was set up. "The trick was to make the tyres work hard in the initial part of the corner, then once they've warmed up and started to grip, use the Renault's excellent rear end to propel the car out of the corner," says Driver61

It gave the Spaniard the edge to have more speed exiting the corner and ultimately beating his rivals. And while he did lose time when entering the corner, the gains were significant on the exit. 

Driver61 says: "Fernando Alonso had a really weird steering technique during the 2005 and 2006 F1 season. He'd shock the Renault F1 car into understeer with a rapid steering input, a technique which had not been seen before in Formula One."

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