F1 veteran Fernando Alonso on why criticism upon his return came as a ‘blessing’

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Fernando Alonso has revealed that he now sees criticism differently compared to his younger self. Alonso returned to F1 for the 2021 season after a two-year break from the sport during which he competed in events such as the Indianapolis 500 and the Dakar Rally.

Concerns were raised at the start of the season when Alonso seemed to struggle with his new Alpine car.

Despite earning points in Italy and in Portugal, Alonso went on a barren run of sorts which included finishing in 17th place at his home Grand Prix in Spain and 13th in Monaco, a track which is known to suit his driving style. 

Such indifferent results however did not deter the 40-year-old, who bounced back with six races in a row in the points after an adjustment to his vehicle.

Speaking to SoyMotor.com, Alonso revealed that he saw the criticism he received in the wake of his Monaco performance as a “blessing”, because it meant that any future positive results could no longer be seen as solely the product of having an elite car.

He also admitted that he thought he would find his comeback to F1 more simple than it turned out.

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Alonso said: “I knew it was a process of adaptation. I thought it would have been faster, because Formula 1 was a natural thing for me compared to the WEC, the Dakar Rally or Indianapolis [500], and I thought I would be at 100% quickly.

“Take Monaco as an example: I was hoping it would be a good circuit for me, but I missed out on Q1. This was disappointing for me.

“I knew it was a matter of time. The criticism and the comments that were made… It’s not that I liked them, but they were a blessing.

“They were a blessing because I knew that it was only a matter of time before people started to appreciate if I finished a race in 10th place.”

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Alonso continued: “Had I always been in front of [team-mate Esteban] Ocon, had I always been in the points, they [the critics] would have said what they’ve said throughout my career, which is that my team-mate was not at the same level and that the car had more potential, and that I was missing out.

“Then, if suddenly they think I am done, anything I accomplish is appreciated much more. 

“Some races were not great, like France for example, where I finished ninth. It was a good race, but nothing special. 

“But it was considered to be a super performance because I was starting to do good races again. It was a good thing.”

Alonso’s finest performance of the season came in the final race before the three-week summer break at the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Despite Lewis Hamilton being in a much faster car and on fresher tyres, Alonso managed to hold off the Englishman for 10 laps in a defensive stand which allowed team-mate Ocon to get his first ever F1 win.

Ocon praised his Alonso’s unselfish actions and said they were the main reason for his maiden success.

F1 returns from the summer break on August 27 for the Belgian Grand Prix weekend at Spa-Francorchamps.

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