Alonso cites 'tenacity' as key lesson from Michael Schumacher

© XPB 

Fernando Alonso has singled out a key trait of Michael Schumacher as one of the most important lessons he learned while racing against the seven-time world champion.

Alonso made his Formula 1 debut with Minardi in 2001 at the Australian GP, a race won by Schumacher who by then had already picked up two world championships with Benetton and another with Ferrari.

Schumacher went on to win that year's title as well, and was then victorious three more times back-to-back during a period in which it seemed that no one could beat him.

Schumacher's final championship success came in 2004, and the following year it was Alonso's turn to take the crown in the first of two consecutive title wins with Renault.

Alonso said he had learned a great deal doing toe-to-toe with Schumacher in those years, and added he was in no doubt about which lesson had been the most important over the years.

"Michael didn't have bad days. Michael never underperformed," he said in an interview for the Aston Martin F1 website. "That's what impressed me most when I got to Formula 1 and especially when I fought with him for the championship.

"Previously in all my career and different categories, my rivals had some bad days and those were the days you would capitalise and score more points than them," he explained.

"With Michael that didn't happen. He and Ferrari were unbeatable most of the time, but - even when the didn't have the car, the tyres or whatever working in the right window - Michael still finished second or third.

"Even after a bad free practice or a bad qualifying, you would still find Michael on the podium on Sunday," he added.

"He had this tenacity, this willingness to exploit any opportunity, to minimise the damage on the bad days and maximise the good days. His determination was outstanding."

After losing the 2006 championship to Alonso, Schumacher decided to retire from motorsport but he returned in 2011 when Mercedes took over Brawn GP to form a brand new works team.

Schumacher retired for good at the end of the 2012 season, opening the door for Lewis Hamilton to move from McLaren.

The following year, Schumacher suffered a serious head injury while skiing in the French Alps with his 14-year-old son Mick, who subsequently followed in his father's footsteps and is now a test and reserve driver for Mercedes.

Meanwhile Alonso continues to follow the lessons he learned from the F1 icon and at 41 is still as tenacious as ever, and is now the oldest driver on the F1 grid in 2023.

"I always try to give my maximum. I'm never demotivated. It doesn't matter whether I'm fighting for fifth or 15th: for me it's like fighting for the win because I have to make sure that I give 100 per cent on every lap of every race.

Fernando Alonso (ESP), Aston Martin Racing 22.11.2022. Formula 1 Testing, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, Tuesday

Whatever you do in life, you have to have this competitiveness inside you – you have to have this hunger to be the best. I've had this hunger since I was a kid. I'm always trying to beat everyone at anything I do.

"Whether it's a race, a tennis match, a card game, or whatever, it's about winning," he continued. "It's about taking advantage of your strengths and using your opponent's weaknesses against them.

"If I can't beat them with Plan A, I go to Plan B. If Plan B doesn't work, I go to Plan C. I have to always beat whoever is in front of me," he said. "There are drivers who are in incredible form right now and I respect all of them.

"Every driver on the grid is very talented, but I'm also in that group and everyone in that group has different strengths and weaknesses. It's how you use those strengths and weaknesses that sets you apart."

And Alonso is just as determined to bring that tenacity to his new team.

"Aston Martin F1 is taking the necessary steps to win in the near future. The team is determined to become a championship contender and will do whatever it takes to get there.

"This ambition is appealing to any racing driver. You see all the investment, the new factory, the talent joining the team, and you want to be part of it.

"And then there is the name, Aston Martin. It is and always will be an iconic brand in motorsport and the automotive industry.

"To write the next chapter in the brand's history and become part of the Aston Martin family makes me very proud."

Gallery: The beautiful wives and girlfriends of F1 drivers

Keep up to date with all the F1 news via Facebook and Twitter