Fernando Alonso has admitted that only the aim of winning three world titles is keeping him in F1.
The Spaniard, now 33, has been stuck as a double world champion since winning back-to-back titles in 2005 and 2006 with Renault.
In the time since, Alonso had a turbulent year alongside Lewis Hamilton at McLaren, two largely unsuccessful years back at the now-Lotus team and a frustrating four seasons at Ferrari.
Indeed, despite being often mentioned as the best driver currently on the F1 grid, Alonso has had to look on as the likes of Hamilton and particularly Sebastian Vettel achieve success largely at his expense.
Now, following four straight years of Red Bull domination, Alonso has seen his and Ferrari’s best opportunity to recapture success fall short as Mercedes now hold the significant advantage over the field and even an under-powered Red Bull Renault still has the edge on his Prancing Horse.
Now very much a veteran on the F1 grid, some are questioning if, with Ferrari now undergoing a period of restructuring, Alonso’s best years are maybe behind him and maybe, despite all the plaudits, be remembered as a driver whose statistics don’t represent his vast talent.
Ahead of this weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix, in an interview with the BBC, Alonso admitted he won’t be ready to hang up his helmet until he claims that illusive third drivers’ crown.
“This is the main goal and you don’t think of retiring until you get some satisfaction,” he said. “It is something I am working for and hoping for.”
Alonso admits, that despite his achievements so far, the reason for wanting that third championship is purely historical.
“It is not that I’m not happy with two but the third puts you in a list of very important names,” he said referring to legends like Ayrton Senna and Niki Lauda.
“I think I can carry on long enough to win and to be competitive for some good years. I don’t know how many – three, five, seven. I don’t think it should be any problem.”
Though what Alonso did admit to is a similar dissatisfaction with the current style of F1 that was the main force behind his good friend Mark Webber leaving the sport and going to the WEC.
The Spaniard was particularly critical of the new hybrid V6 cars the sport introduced in 2014, claiming they were too heavy and too unpredictable for the driver.
He also remains a staunch critic of the Pirelli tyres, which many drivers blasted for being too extreme in 2013 and now too conservative in 2014.
“You push two laps and then you save tyres until the next stop,” he explained, “sometimes you don’t even push.
“This is not something racing drivers like to do.
“It is not a problem of how long you can keep this level, it’s a problem of how much fun I will have driving those cars in the future.”
In this time of transition at Ferrari, that has seen Marco Mattiacci replace former team boss Stefano Domenicali, there has been a much greater interest in the team’s operations by company President Luca di Montezemolo.
During the build-up for the Monaco Grand Prix, Alonso was praised by Deiter Zetsche, Chairman at Mercedes’ parent company Daimler, that caused a rare public response from Di Montezemolo who called his driver “the best in the world”.
Alonso’s relationship with Di Montezemolo hasn’t always been smooth, particularly at the end of last summer when the Italian publicly rebuked the Spaniard for comments about Ferrari.
Asked about his current status with Di Montezemolo, Alonso insisted: “We talk very, very often, once a week. There are zero problems.”
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