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‘A lot of respect’ – F1 drivers praise Alonso’s endurance as he extends career with new Aston Martin deal

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Fernando Alonso’s fellow Formula 1 drivers have shared their respect and admiration for the Spaniard after he committed to a new long-term deal with Aston Martin that will take him into his mid-40s.

Alonso, who made his F1 debut back in 2001, will continue to race through at least the 2025 and 2026 seasons while bidding to add to the 22 pole positions, 106 podiums, 32 wins and two world titles he has achieved so far.

READ MORE: Alonso on his new ‘lifetime’ Aston Martin deal, talks with rival teams and a Honda reunion

Asked about 42-year-old Alonso’s endurance, and if he could see himself doing the same in the future, McLaren racer Lando Norris said: “I think it takes a lot of dedication. I don’t think anyone thinks Fernando lacks that in any way. I think he shows that with everything that he does in life, whether it’s at the track or away from the track.

“It’s rare that you see someone commit for so long in any sport. He’s probably one of the oldest guys competing at the top of any sport in the world and I think to be able to do that at the level that he has done and continues to do, you’re probably never going to potentially see it again within F1. If you do, it’s going be extremely rare.

“I think a lot of respect [is due] for that kind of thing. I have no idea if I want to [continue racing] in 20 years time, if I’m still going strong, but I love where I am now and I continue to do such a thing, so we’ll see.”

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Alonso recently committed to a new long-term deal with Aston Martin

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc shared that view, commenting: “It’s difficult to imagine myself in 15 or 18 years time still in F1. However, we can definitely see how motivated Fernando still is and how high of a level he’s still performing at the moment, and this is what matters at the end – age is a number.

“On my side, I would love to be racing still for many years. However, I’m not so sure whether [it will be] in F1. I would like to experience other things like Le Mans; that’s definitely a place where I will see myself race one day.

F1 NATION: Alonso’s Aston Martin decision and what it means for him – with Pedro de la Rosa and Damon Hill

“But yeah, I mean, as long as I am fully motivated then I will race and I love what I do, so for now that’s what I want to do for the longest time possible.”

Adding to Norris and Leclerc’s words, one of Alonso’s former team mates, Esteban Ocon, noted how the former Renault driver’s battles with Ferrari rival Michael Schumacher in the mid-noughties inspired his own journey to F1.

“[I have] huge respect for Fernando,” the Alpine driver stated. “Since I’ve been very little I’ve been watching him competing, against Michael and, you know, these two guys are the guys that gave me the love for the sport.

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“To still be racing with Fernando now, it’s very incredible. Just to see the career he has done… he’s won in everything, basically. He’s won in karting, he’s won in Le Mans, in the States in sportscars – everything he’s competed in he has almost won.

“It’s more than remarkable, it’s a dream career for any athlete or racing driver, so I don’t know if I would still be racing at his age, but truly, his dedication is something that is an example for all of us.”

READ MORE: Hamilton’s former team mate Rosberg gives his take on the 7-time champion’s Ferrari move – and whether it will pay off

Zhou Guanyu, meanwhile, went from cheering for Alonso in the grandstands at the Chinese Grand Prix as a youngster to making his F1 practice debut in his hero’s car at the 2021 Austrian Grand Prix.

Now racing for Kick Sauber full-time, Zhou said: “I think it’s an incredible journey that Fernando has done. Of course, it’s a lot easier to say than to do. I would love to be racing in F1 for many more years, that’s for sure. That’s what I’m most passionate about and driving these cars as well.

“From my side, of course, back in the day, he was kind of my racing role model that I was looking for and it’s great to be seeing him still performing a very high level. Hopefully we can soon battle for some positions on track and have some fun.”

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