Q&A with Renaults Fernando Alonso 20 May 2009
Anxiety about securing a drive for the following season is commonplace among younger F1 drivers. The fact that a double world champion still at the height of his powers is feeling that anxiety says a lot about the current political machinations within Formula One racing. If Fernando Alonso has already worked out a plan B he is certainly not letting on. What is certain is that he wants better results - and sooner rather than later
Q: Pace-wise the car seems to be in the lower points bracket so far. Do you expect the same situation in Monaco this weekend?
Fernando Alonso: At the moment we expect the same as at the races before. Even if Monaco is a special track, we always see the strong cars of the respective season winning, e.g. McLaren or Renault in the last few years. Usually the car that wins the championship is also one of the strongest in Monaco. It is not as if this special racetrack also completely changes the grid. But it is also true that Monaco has a special set-up for the cars, like very soft tyres, a lot of down force, so it might be true that some cars perform better than expected, and some perform worse than expected. We also know that it is very important to be very confident in and with your car, and to be able to attack and race very close to the barriers to achieve a fast lap time. It is one of the priorities to feel comfortable in the car and also for the engine, to get a very good drivability. We are quite optimistic, as this is one of the races that can give you quite some opportunities, and we will go for it. We want to go for the top five.
Q: How is the car performing in the medium-slow corners, a key feature here in Monaco?
FA: We do not have a clear reference for this as of yet. This race requires a different set-up, and not only for us. Last year we did not have the best start into the season, but in Monaco we were fourth or fifth on the grid. So for this year we are a bit more confident that we can be closer to the top teams.
Q: Renault and Ferrari have said they may not lodge their entries for 2010. Are you worried about your future?
FA: Yes, very worried.
Q: So how difficult is it to concentrate on racing, when you perhaps have doubts over where you will be driving next season?
FA: I try to concentrate on the business and switch off. We are here in Monaco, and I will 100 percent concentrate on the Grand Prix. It was true that last week at home I was asking myself if this will be the last time for me racing here in Monaco. Of course if the manufacturers decide to leave Formula One I would not want to race with a small team. If this were to happen, then this would not be Formula One anymore and there are many other categories. For me it is strange that no one sits down and starts thinking how much this is damaging this great sport, to give three or four new teams the possibility to enter, but lose maybe seven manufacturers, and also ten of the best drivers in the world.
Q: Looking at the drivers points table, do you feel that Jenson Button has already got the championship wrapped up?
FA: No, I do not think so. It is true that if Jenson keeps winning more races, the championship for us, Ferrari or McLaren might be over, as we could not recover the gap in points. But for Red Bull Racing or Toyota the championship is still open.
Q: Coming back to Monaco, which part of the track is most difficult for you?
FA: For me it is the last sector, with the swimming pool part, the last two chicanes and the Rascasse corner. The first sector does not have many corners, then the second sector, with three slow corners before the tunnel, is not too special. But when you arrive at the third sector you really have to push and this is the challenge.
Q: If you were able to take a passenger on one flying lap, which part would be the most shocking for him or her?
FA: I would assume that it would be the exit of the tunnel. In the first place you have the difference of light there, and you are more or less blind at the exit. Then you are going downhill, and you do not really see the corner or the braking point. On top of that you have the maximum speed of 295 or 296 km/h, and your passenger probably will start praying at that part.
Q: Is it true that you plan to compete in the Le Mans 24-hour race?
FA: Yes, and I will probably also do it more often, which does not mean that this is my plan B. I am only 27 years old and have won the Formula One world championship twice, so there are also other categories to win.