Fernando Alonso has given a candid interview with Spanish daily sports paper AS, where he discussed the upcoming F1 season and who he would like to win the drivers’ championship this year.
Spoiler alert – it’s not Lewis Hamilton.
At 36-years-old, the man from Oviedo was seemingly in fine fettle as he talked about what may lie in the future for the McLaren number one – and if that future is in F1 at all as he will also be participating in both the FIA World Endurance Championship and Le Mans this year.
The Spaniard was asked if F1 still his main priority and Alonso’s answer was far from emphatic:
“F1 is my principal objective, but Le Mans is a race which I've always wanted to take part in, it's a race which really attracts me, and has sufficient grandeur to be involved in," the two-time world champion said.
“It's always caught my attention; the opportunity to take part in it arose so that's what I'm going to do.
“But regardless of the problems I might have, I love competing and I gained valuable experience, I had good sensations out on the track, I put in a lot of hours and I am much more prepared now - and that's important.
“Now I have a better idea of how to handle the traffic, the race.., it was a question of building up my confidence.”
Now a veteran of the sport, Alonso is eager to make the most of his time left in an F1 car by challenging to win a third title.
But who would he like to see at the top of the podium at the end of the season if he had the choice?
Well, unsurprisingly his first choice was McLaren teammate Stoffel Vandoorne and when pressed to name someone outside of his team, he nominated fellow Spaniard, Carlos Sainz, to take the crown.
"Q: If you had to choose a driver to win the world championships, who would it be?
"A: [Stoffel] Vandoorne.
"Q: What about a driver who isn't in your team?
"A: Carlos [Sainz], obviously."
On his participation in the FIA World Endurance championship, the 36-year-old admitted he sees a lot of similarities between the two sports and the journey his compatriot Sainz had to go through after he switched over from the World Rally Championships.
It’s a challenge he thinks he will enjoy.
“I wasn't something which I chose as such, but what I will say is that the level demanded by F1, in terms of time and preparation is huge and after so many years in F1 you realize that the time will come when that's just not possible anymore,” Alonso added.
“It's a bit like Carlos Sainz, when he decided to leave the World Rally Championships - it didn't mean that he had elected Dakar as his future, it's just that he likes rallies, he'd been world champions but you need to be training and travelling every day all of the time…
“Then all of a sudden there's a rally which is held once a year, it's exotic and very prestigious and you have the opportunity to race in it… It's not really a case of making a conscious choice…
“You just like the competition and find it appealing because you enjoy racing and you have the chance to combine the two things and do something new which you haven't had the opportunity to do during many years of competition.
“The Endurance Championships gives you that, you have less races over the year, you can get a little of your life back but at the same time, continue competing.”
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