F1 drivers need to show more respect, says Alonso
BARCELONA, May 10 — Formula One drivers need to wind back the clock and show each other more respect like they did in the past when motor racing was much more dangerous, according to Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso.
As he prepared for his home grand prix in Barcelona this weekend, the Spaniard reflected on the old days in his personal blog (ferrari.com) marking the 30th anniversary of the death of Ferrari great Gilles Villeneuve.
Alonso took part in an event at the team’s Fiorano test track on Tuesday to remember the Canadian, whose son and 1997 world champion Jacques also drove laps in Gilles’s 1979 Ferrari.
He also compared Villeneuve senior’s era to his own, with a veiled allusion to recent controversial track manoeuvres.
Recalling Villeneuve’s epic 1979 French Grand Prix duel with Renault’s French driver Rene Arnoux, when the pair banged wheels and overtook each other repeatedly in the closing laps, Alonso recognised the sport had changed.
“Unfortunately these days we no longer see this sort of fight because there are more difficulties to deal with: The cars are now dominated by aerodynamics and those sorts of passing moves are no longer possible,” said the double world champion.
“On top of that there was definitely more respect then than there is now between us drivers, partly because they knew that in those cars they were risking their lives.
“I don’t want to say that today things are done incorrectly but I believe there is not that mutual respect, at least not from everyone, that there was back then,” continued the 30-year-old Alonso.
“It’s a problem that goes back a long way, to the junior categories and I think the time has come to try and get it back.”
Alonso was furious after last month’s Bahrain Grand Prix where stewards decided not to punish Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg for two controversial moves on him and McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton.
The Spaniard shook his fist angrily from the cockpit at the German after Rosberg forced him off the track and on to the runoff as Alonso tried to overtake.
Hamilton made it past Rosberg but only after going completely off the track.
Race stewards took no action but that prompted Alonso to comment sarcastically on Twitter that future races would be “fun”.
“You can defend position as you want and you can overtake outside the track! Enjoy!” he said at the time.
Alonso was one of four different winners in the first four races of the season, making the most of wet conditions in Malaysia with an otherwise uncompetitive Ferrari who are fourth in the constructor standings.
He hopes his home race will narrow the gap between the prancing horse and top team Red Bull and second-placed McLaren, with new car updates set to be unveiled.
“In Montmelo (Barcelona) we will be counting on making a step forward but we won’t know until Saturday if we have and if so, how big a step it is,” said Alonso.
“We have updates on the F2012, some of which we tested in Mugello last week and others which we will try out on Friday in free practice.
“Clearly, having limited the damage in the first four races this year we must turn things around. Having said that it’s not the case that if we are not on pole in Barcelona then it’s the end of the world.”
Barcelona is the first race of the season to take place in Europe and the fifth of 20 grand prix this year.
Alonso is fifth in the drivers’ championship on 43 points, 10 behind Red Bull’s leader and champion Sebastian Vettel. — Reuters