until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Formula 1

Verstappen’s huge respect for ‘on fire’ Alonso

by Scott Mitchell-Malm
2 min read

Formula 1 world champion Max Verstappen wants to see “on fire” Fernando Alonso racing at the front again – expressing his huge admiration for the two-time title winner.

Alonso returned to F1 this season after a two-year absence and scored a best result of third with the midfield Alpine team, sharing the Qatar Grand Prix podium with Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton.

It was Alonso’s first F1 podium finish since 2014 as the intervening seasons were spoiled by the uncompetitive McLaren-Honda and then McLaren-Renault packages, before he opted to take a sabbatical from F1.

Alonso became a two-time Le Mans 24 Hours winner and World Endurance champion in that time, took part in the Dakar Rally and returned to the Indianapolis 500.

As the F1 season approached its conclusion and Verstappen was locked in a fierce fight with Hamilton, Alonso was effusive in his praise of the Red Bull driver – calling him “outstanding” and stating it was a “matter of time” for him to become world champion.

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Qatar Grand Prix Race Day Doha, Qatar

After clinching the title, Verstappen was asked in an interview for sponsor CarNext if there were other world champions on the list he resonated with as a driver.

“At the moment, I have a really good friendship with Fernando,” said Verstappen.

“Because already when I was still karting, I really liked his style. He’s also that never give up [type] and a real fighter.

“Of course, unfortunately, for the last few years, he hasn’t been able to do that at the front, just because he doesn’t have the car.

“But I like his attitude, he’s really on fire. And also his drive and motivation at his age to still be there in Formula 1, and wanting to be there for a longer time.

“He always wants to win, he always wants to do his best. For me, it’s really nice to see.”

Alonso’s return to F1 this year with Alpine was a preparation for what he hopes will be more competitive seasons with the works Renault team under new regulations from 2022.

He is currently contracted only for next season but he and the team have indicated he could stay beyond that.

On the prospect of fighting Alonso, Verstappen said a purely friendly relationship off-track would be a “different story” on it.

“But we will still be respecting each other a lot,” Verstappen said.

“I would like to see him back at the front, he really deserves it. And of course he’s a two time world champion.

“But it’s also really nice just to talk to him and see how he thinks about situations.”

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