Alonso the best in the world? Five arguments for and against
Luca Montezemolo thinks he is, but is he still the best? Here are five arguments for and against:
1. Ten years without winning a championship...
2006 was the last time Alonso won the championship against Michael Schumacher and a very fast Ferrari. The obvious talent of the Asturian allied to a reliable car brought him a second title in a row, challenging the reign of the dominant German, but suddenly he was on his way to McLaren, where he couldn't take advantage of the best car for one reason or another and returned to Renault. The car wasn't what it was at his old team, then he was off to Ferrari which had also slipped from the frontrunning position Alonso had fought so hard against in earlier times. Can you be the best in the world without winning a championship in ten years?
... but he's still the highest paid driver in F1.
Don't forget that fact, his contract with McLaren is the most lucrative in the history of the sport, and in the world of Formula 1 nothing is given out for free. You have to reason that he's considered the best within the sport, and therefore is paid the most money.
2. His last victory was in Barcelona 2013...
It's been far too long since he topped the podium, in the same amount of time Lewis Hamilton has won 22 times, Vettel 14, Rosberg 13 and Ricciardo 3. It's a bold statement to make, that the best in the world hasn't won since 2013. Those are the facts.
... but, the cars he's had.
In this world of F1, without a competetive car, a driver doesn't stand a chance. Alonso managed to win twice with a weaker car, in fact he's never had the best car on the circuit the way Vettel has and Hamilton currently has. In 2013 he took to the podium no less than seven times, twice in 2014 with a car that had no right being there and last year he finished fifth in a race with the second-worst car in the championship.
3. In 2015 his teammate beat him...
Alonso has always been praised for not only beating, but destroying his teammates: Trulli, Villenueve and Fisichella, not to mention Massa, and of course, Raikkonen. Then again, it is true that Button overtook him, 16 points to 11: the first time a teammate has beaten him on points. Worth remembering maybe that he did draw once with Hamilton back in 2007.
... once, in a "test year".
Besides the fact that Fernando admitted he was 'saving himself', it's true that McLaren Honda's 2015 should be considered a year that doesn't count because of the disaster of a car he had to drive, and Alonso knew that his objective was to test the car, try things and help with the development of the team. A test year. Also, if you count the times the car let the two drivers down, Button had two fewer forced retirements, if you count the head to heads in the races finished, the Spaniard comes out on top.
4. He's not as aggressive as he was...
One of the greatest accusations by his critics, they say he's lost vitality and aggression, and perhaps they're right. His starts aren't as fresh and bold as they once were, and he is more tactically-minded, thinking about points rather than risking a potential accident.
... but he moved 28 places up the grid with the McLaren in the first race.
How was someone who's lost it able to make up 28 places in that car, with all its limitations? He was the driver who overtook most on the corners, showing he still has the hunger and desire to take back the world and prove his talent to all his doubters. Another fact: Alonso is fourth in the betting stakes behind the Mercedes drivers and Vettel to win the championship this year.
5. He's only won two titles...
How can a two-time champion be considered better than a three-time, or a four-time winner? Can Alonso really be considered better than Hamilton or Vettel, with Hamilton sitting comfortably on the throne at the moment. Both have surpassed Alonso in victories, making it more difficult still to believe that he's the best. Lewis is now third in the all-time victories chart with 43, and Vettel is on 42, both numbers beyond those achieved by Senna, while Fernando still dwells on 32. Are the more to come? Only the future knows that.
... but might have won five.
It might sound opportunistic and engaging in what-iffery, but in my view Fernando derserved to win two, even three more championships. Once he left Renault for McLaren and they had trusted in him and given him the status of lead driver, he would have won his third. No doubt about it. With Ferrari he lost by such fine margins in 2010 and 2012 in a car that again had no right to be where it was. That would be five, that's without going into what might have happened had he stayed at McLaren, signed for Red Bull etc...
Is Alonso the best? That's for you to decide, but in my experience around the world with teams, drivers, experts and owners, most would still put Fernando Alonso as the best driver in the world. Yes, he needs a car, and yes, this is a crunch year for one of the finest talents the sport has ever seen.
In my view, the very fact that this question is still being asked around the world says it all.
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