Alonso denies that he's a 'self-centred' driver

Fernando Alonso (ESP) Toyota Gazoo Racing.
© XPB 

Two-time Formula 1 world champion Fernando Alonso insists he's not the self-centred driver that he's sometimes portrayed as in the media.

“I think the reputation is always one thing and the facts are different,” he told the media at last week's FIA Prize Gala in Paris.

Alonso memorably fell out with his then-new team mate Lewis Hamilton in 2007, and later went on to a stormy time at Ferrari.

Subsequently he made little effort to conceal his growing dissatisfaction at McLaren's dismal partnership with Honda between 2015 and 2017.

"You see crashing teammates and things like that, as we saw this year and you see every year between teammates," he pointed out, saying it was just a normal day at the office in F1.

Alonso added that throughout his time in the sport he'd been happy to be the team player when it was needed.

"You will see the slipstream [I gave to my team mate] at Monza, and slipstream in Spa," he said. "I know these collaborations, so when we talk about reputation it is better if we look at the facts.”

It was a different order of team work for Alonso when he moved to FIA World Endurance Racing full-time in 2018 where he had to work closely with Toyota co-drivers Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima to clinch two Le Mans victories together with the overall season title.

“It wasn't a problem to share with these two guys," he explained. "Obviously, they had the experience in endurance.

“They taught me a lot from the first day of testing," he continued. "They knew about their approach on long distance races. I was the one always making the mistakes, or asking the questions."

That said, Alonso admitted that when it came to the races he had never been entirely happy to have to get out of the car and hand the wheel over to one of his team mates.

"I always want to drive," he acknowledged. "But every time that I was jumping out of the car and they were going in, it was like less stress for me.

"I knew they were doing the right things, so there was a lot of trust between us.”

Fernando Alonso (ESP) with Mattia Binotto (ITA) Ferrari Team Principal.

Currently Alonso is preparing for his first attempt at the Dakar Rally, although the 38-year-old Spanish driver admitted that he didn't yet feel ready to mount a genuine challenge in the iconic event.

And as for 2020, Alonso says his primary focus is on winning the Indianapolis 500. He first entered the race in 2017 but suffered an engine failure with 21 laps remaining, and then failed to qualify for the 33-car grid in 2019 with McLaren Racing.

It's not clear which team he will be racing for next year as he attempts to become only the second driver in history to complete the Triple Crown of Motorsport.

“I will need to look at the best possibilities to be competitive," he said. "That’s the one that I want to win now and the main priority for me."

Beyond that, a return to F1 seems less and less unlikely. But he's still keeping his eye on the driver market, and in particular the rumours that his former team mate Hamilton might be lured away from Mercedes to Ferrari in 2021.

"He has to consider all the situations and ingredients that will be in the mix and make the decision," Alonso told Channel 4 at the Gala. "I think it is very personal.

"There will be some loyalty probably to Mercedes as well, for all the achievements they've had together," he added. "And also, I don't know what Mercedes are thinking as well for 2021."

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