Alonso says second title would make Verstappen an all-time great

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Alonso says second title would make Verstappen an all-time great

Formula 1

Alonso says second title would make Verstappen an all-time great

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Fernando Alonso believes Max Verstappen’s second drivers’ championship will make him an all-time great at the age of 25.

Verstappen turns 25 on Friday and can match Alonso’s tally of 32 race victories and two world championships at this weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix. Given the Dutchman would become the 17th driver to win multiple Formula 1 titles and move into the top six of all-time winners with a victory, Alonso believes it puts Verstappen alongside the sport’s greats.

“I think so, yes,” Alonso said. “He’s 24 or 25, no? So there’s still a lot in front of him, but I wish him more luck than me because I was also 26 with those stats and still have the same stats at 40! But I’m sure with Red Bull and how things look for the future, he will only get better.

“It’s very well deserved. They were the best team and the best driver by far, so when they win it I don’t think is an important thing, it’s just that they will. Whether it’s here or Japan, let’s see.”

While the likelihood is that Verstappen will win the title in one of the next two races, Alonso says an early finish should not detract from the job he and Red Bull have done.

“There was not much fight, no? I mean, it’s going to be an important season because we changed the regulations massively, 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 outstanding. There was no fight maybe because Red Bull and Max Verstappen were better than the others, but they didn’t have that superior car because I guess Ferrari’s is the same or better.”

Alonso sees similarities between himself and Verstappen in the way they are both regularly immediately on the pace at the start of a race weekend and close to their ultimate limit, rather than taking time to build up their performance.

“I think you cannot teach that — it has to come from yourself. There are drivers who need more time, they need to study more data, they need all the Friday to analyze and compare with the teammate and slowly make little steps until there are 100% ready for qualifying. And there are others who are 100% in FP1. I think Max is one of those and he has always been like that from go-karts to now, so it should not be a surprise to anyone.

“It’s what I consider one of my strengths and that’s why I stopped Formula 1 in 2018 to try different things, because I thought that my career was not progressing, just being 10th or 12th in Formula 1 every weekend. I wanted to challenge myself in different categories and different cars every weekend, and try to achieve different titles or race wins.

“But I look at these stats and the timed laps and I will look with interest tomorrow in FP1 — in the first five minutes of the session you will see Max Verstappen will be 2.5 seconds in front of everyone. Slowly they will come back and then in qualifying they will be close to him.

“It happens in a way on a small scale also between my teammates sometimes. On Friday I’m well ahead and then on Saturday and Sunday they’re getting better and better. Ideally for Max or myself we would love a wet session FP1, FP2, FP3 and go into qualifying for the first time in a new track conditions.”

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