Alonso: It's 'a little bit odd' to be Alpine's 'godfather'

Fernando Alonso (ESP) Alpine F1 Team A521 in the pits while the race is stopped. 18.04.2021. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 2, Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, Imola
© XPB 

Fernando Alonso admitted that it was odd to hear himself dubbed the Alpine F1 team's "godfather of everybody" by CEO Luca de Meo as a result of his extensive experience in the sport compared to the relatively young behind-the-scenes line-up.

De Meo said he wanted to use the two-time world champion's knowledge of motorsport to help Alpine become a top team, explaining: "It’s about attitude and mindset, and he has it."

Speaking to UK broadcaster Channel 4 in an exclusive interview after picking up his first championship point since returning to the sport after a two-year absence, Alonso admitted that his boss's comments had certainly made him stop and think.

“I think he meant that from everybody in the team, one of the most experienced guys is the driver now - which is a little bit odd,” he acknowledged.

“Normally you come into Formula 1 and we have a lot of experienced members in the team telling you about the old races and the anecdotes and curiosities of Imola, curiosities of another circuit.

"Now I’m probably the guy that is telling the team those things. It’s the driver that is telling these things now, and that is a little bit strange at the moment."

Although Alpine is in one sense a brand new team on the F1 grid, it's also very much the same team with which Alonso won his back-to-back titles in 2005 and 2006.

"The team is fresh, motivated and has some potential to become a champion team in the future," he said. “I’m sure of that. I don’t know if it’s going to take two years, five or seven, but we are in a nice project and I’m enjoying it.”

Fernando Alonso (ESP) Alpine F1 Team A521. 18.04.2021. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 2, Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, Imola

Alonso has admitted that the two years he took out of F1 to compete at Le mans and Indianapolis had left him scrambling to catch up, such is the pace of technical development.

“It feels kind of obvious that every lap I do, every lap we do, these drivers, we feel more comfortable,” he said, adding that the mix of weather conditions at Imola had been a big help in that respect.

"From lap one to the end we changed conditions and we changed grip level so many times during the race," he explained. “There were a lot of things to practice and a lot of things to go through that normally take four or five races.

"We compressed all in one race with a lot of activity," he continued. “So I’m happy with the learnings. I’m also happy with feeling the car in wet conditions.

"It was the very first time in wet conditions, the very first time in inter conditions, the very first time in conditions with only one narrow dry line. So a lot of lessons," he said. “Feeling-wise, from lap one to 63, I felt 300 per cent better in a way of how confident I am with the car.

"But this cannot be an excuse to say that we did not perform well. I did not perform well, I have to be more prepared and more ready next time," he acknowledged. “It doesn’t matter if you have little time or no time in the car - I will try to be better next time.”

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