F1: Alonso back in saddle after fracturing jaw on bike ride
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Fernando Alonso has named the two drivers who he says were the reason he continued to watch F1 while he was taking a break from competing in the sport. The Spaniard spent two years away from the grid after leaving McLaren at the end of 2018, and returned this year with Alpine.
As well as a struggle to get results, the two-time world champion was no longer enjoying being part of the sport.
“I stopped because the action on track, in my opinion, I feel is very poor,” he told Autosport shortly after walking away.
“There are other series that maybe offer better action, more joy and more happiness, so that is what I try to find.”
During his time out of F1, Alonso took part in several different racing events, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the 24 Hours of Daytona, the Indianapolis 500 and the Dakar Rally.
But he made a point of continuing to watch F1 races on Sundays wherever possible, and has named the pair of drivers who excited him enough to make him keep coming back for more.
And despite winning the drivers’ championship in both years and dominating on the track, his old rival Lewis Hamilton is not one of the two.
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“I only watched the races because of two drivers – Max Verstappen and George Russell,” Alonso told F1 Insider.
“Because these are the two drivers who are special, who make the difference. Who get more out of the actual performance of their cars.
“The rest of the drivers only got the results that corresponded to the performance of their cars.”
Red Bull star Verstappen has been fighting with Alonso’s former McLaren team-mate Hamilton for the title this season, while big things are expected of Russell when he steps up to join the seven-time world champion at Mercedes next season.
With both Britons likely gunning for the championship in 2022, some have suggested their partnership might be akin to when the young and ambitious Hamilton first joined McLaren and had a tense relationship with Alonso, after proving he was just as quick as the defending champion in his rookie season.
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When asked about that 2007 season, the Spaniard aimed another dig at his old team-mate as he proclaimed himself as a team player.
“I would be more selfish today. I was too naive,” he admitted. “I believed too much in justice, too much in fairness. Too much of the good in people.
“In the end I was alone in the team because everyone else was only thinking of themselves.”
Alonso sits 10th in the driver’s standings in his first season back on the grid, having earned 58 points – 12 more than Alpine team-mate Esteban Ocon, a race winner this season in Budapest.
After falling out of love with the sport by the end of 2018, the 40-year-old has his passion for F1 back again.
“You have to be fit, you have to be motivated. I am both. After the two-year break, I got fresh energy again.
“At the end of 2018 my batteries were pretty dead, I felt drained. I stopped, also because I no longer felt any real joy. In contrast to today.”
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