The Alpine driver was 25 when he claimed his second title with Renault in 2006, while Verstappen , who may mathematically claim his second crown this weekend, turned 25 on Friday in Singapore.
Fernando Alonso was asked if a second championship would put Verstappen among the all-time greats.
“I think so,” said the Spaniard. “I mean, he’s 24 or 25 years old. He still has a lot to go, but I wish him better luck than me, because I was 26 years old with those stats too. And I’m still with the same stats at 40 years old!” .
“But I’m sure with Red Bull, and the way the future looks, it’s only going to get better.”
Alonso praised Max Verstappen and his team, Red Bull, for their performance this year, taking the opportunity to take an apparent jab at Ferrari for its failure to make the most of a highly competitive car.
“It wasn’t too close, was it?” he began. “It’s going to be an important season, because they’ve changed a lot with the new regulations, so it’s going to always be remembered for this new generation of cars. I think Ferrari had a very, very fast car.”
“But Red Bull and Max were exceptional. Maybe there wasn’t a battle because Red Bull and Max Verstappen were better than the others. But they didn’t have that top car, because I guess the Ferrari is the same, or better.”
“It’s well deserved. I think, as I said before, they’ve been the best team and the best driver by far, so when they win it I don’t think it’s a big thing, they’ll just win it. If it’s here or in Japan, that’s it. we will see”.
Alonso praised Verstappen’s ability to always be quick from the start of a weekend.
“I think that can’t be taught,” he said. “I think it has to come from oneself. There are drivers who need more time, they need to study more data, they need all of Friday to analyze and compare with their teammate and little by little take small steps until they are 100%, ready to the classification”.
“And there are others who are 100% in FP1. So I think Max is one of those. And it’s always been that way, from the karts until now, so it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone.”
He also compared himself to Verstappen: “I mean that’s probably one, or I think of it, of my strengths. And that’s why I left F1 in 2018 to try different things because I felt like my career wasn’t progressing just by being 10th or 12th in F1 every weekend, I wanted to challenge myself in different categories, in different cars every weekend, and try to get different titles or wins.”
“Watch any FP1, the first five minutes of the session, and you will see that Max Verstappen will be 2.5 seconds ahead of everyone. And then little by little the others will come, and then in qualifying they will be close to him.
“Something similar happens, on a smaller scale, between me and my teammates sometimes, that on Friday I’m way ahead and then on Saturday and Sunday they get better.”
“So the ideal for Max, for me or for anyone is to have wet sessions in FP1, FP2 FP3, and get to qualifying for the first time on a track that is like new.
Speaking of Alonso’s comments, Verstappen returned the compliment.
“In F1 you need a bit of luck, and you need to be lucky to make the right decision and then have a dominant car for a long time,” said the Dutchman.
“Because obviously if you had put Fernando in the cars that other people have won championships with, he would have done the same.
“But that’s not how F1 works. In the end, he’s won two titles, so I think he’s done very well. And he’s also a great guy, and a great personality for F1.”
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