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Formula 1: Fernando Alonso, in his roaring forties

The years do not seem to have a hold on the “Taurus of Asturias”.

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Formula 1: Fernando Alonso, in his roaring forties

The years do not seem to have a hold on the “Taurus of Asturias”. On the eve of competing in the longest season in F1 history – a record 24 Grands Prix await the drivers – Fernando Alonso savors this form of eternal youth, or aging in slow motion: “The results obtained during the The physical tests we do every season have never been better than this year. It will be the longest season in the history of Formula 1. I want to change the travel schedule and other things a little to be really effective this year and arrive with a lot of energy at the end of the season. »

The Spaniard, in better shape than ever, will begin his 21st season in the premier motorsport category this weekend in Bahrain. And he is eyeing a 33rd victory in F1. If he succeeded, he would join the club of ten Grand Prix winners aged over 40 - the first since the Briton Nigel Mansell in 1994. This rebirth, the double world champion 2005 and 2006 owes in particular to Aston Martin. Far from the best in 2022, the English team that he joined in 2023 surprised everyone with its renewed performance that year, especially at the start. “This season is incredibly and surprisingly good,” appreciated the Spaniard in an interview with AFP in spring 2023. “We thought we had a high-performance car but not to the point of competing with Mercedes and Ferrari, which surprised us.”

2023, the best season of his career with 2012 according to him

Last year, Alonso had a string of podiums (eight in 22 races), which had not happened for almost ten years, with the exception of Qatar in 2021 with the French team Alpine. Fourth in the championship, he had not been at such a celebration since the 2012 and 2013 seasons, when he finished in second place. “Along with the 2012 season (when he fought for the title against German Sebastian Vettel, editor’s note), I consider this season to be my best season – better than 2005 and 2006.” So much so that today, the Spaniard is not talking about retirement but on the contrary, he considers himself "in a very good position" on the F1 transfer market, totally upset by the announcement of Lewis' departure Hamilton at Ferrari next season. From there to imagining Fernando Alonso joining Mercedes, there is only one step that certain rumors in the paddock do not hesitate to affirm.

Arriving in Formula 1 in 2001 at Minardi - the three-time reigning world champion Max Verstappen was then barely 3 years old - Alonso has since experienced several lives on the roads and circuits. Double world champion with Renault, moved to Ferrari (2010-2014), without however managing to win a new title, the Spaniard then stunted at McLaren (2015-2018). Lacking the means to win again, the native of Oviedo then left F1 for two years. The time to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2018 (when he was still in F1) and 2019, the title of world endurance champion in 2018-2019, with Toyota, and to participate in the Indianapolis 500 and the Dakar rally raid. A hiatus which turned out to be beneficial according to the champion: “it helped me, perhaps not so much in terms of the driving style as in the mentality and the approach, the motivation”, explained- he last year. “When you've been in F1 for 18 years, it's not that you lose your motivation, I've always had it, but I was tired of traveling, of the routine, of repeating the same things, so these two years were very refreshing, I recharged my batteries,” he continued, assuring today that he was “much fresher, happy to arrive early on the circuit.”

Returning to the premier category in 2021 with Alpine, Alonso did no better than 9th place in the championship - in 2022 - season during which he broke the record for Grand Prix starts, overtaking the retired Finn Kimi Raïkkönen on the clock. which had 350. Where will the forty-year-old stop? “A few years ago, I would have said that 41 or 42 was the age limit (to race in F1, editor's note) but after seeing last year my motivation and my good performances, I thought that I could race for a few more years (...) if we remain motivated and committed, we can imagine racing until the age of 48, 49 or even 50,” he declared in mid-February. Who knows, F1's Benjamin Button, who will start his 379th GP on Saturday, will perhaps one day have another record in his sights: that of the oldest driver in Formula 1, which belongs to Monegasque Louis Chiron, pilot at 55 years and 9 months in 1955.

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