Former F1 driver Pedro de la Rosa believes that the biggest strenght of his compatriot Fernando Alonso is his dedication and the fact that he thinks about racing 24 hours a day.
Alonso returned to Formula 1 after a two-year break, winning two 24h Le Mans races, and judging by the first race of the season in Bahrain, the Spaniard has not lost his trademark speed and racing skills.
The first qualifying appearance for Alpine Alonso ended with a placement in Q3, but he retired in the race because the plastic bag ended up in the rear brake cooling ducts which led to terminal damage to the braking system.
De la Rosa made his Formula One debut in 1999 in Arrows, where he drove for two seasons before moving to Jaguar in 2001, where he stayed until the end of 2002, and in 2005 and 2006 he replaced Juan Pablo Montoya in several races and drove the fastest lap at the 2005 Bahrain Grand Prix which is still the track record in the race.
“It’s really his strength – Fernando thinks about racing 24 hours a day,” de la Rosa told the F1 Nation podcast.
“Everyone says the same thing about the champion, about the racer, but when you say that about Fernando then you mean it.”
“I was with him when he wasn’t racing in Formula 1 or in the WEC series and he was like ‘we should go karting together again.’
“He’s always thinking about what he’s going to race next weekend.”
“It’s pretty unique. I was with a lot of drivers. When I had a free weekend I wanted to do other things, I wanted to go home, see the kids, ride a bike.”
“But for him this is not a job, it’s his passion. He’s a passionate man and I think that’s his greatest strength – he has no other distractions in his life. He’s a 100% dedicated man.”
De la Rosa also referred to Alonso’s years, since on July 29 he turns 40 and that a lot of people ask him if he has lost speed over the years.
“Seeing him come back at that age and he’s so hungry, it’s fantastic,” de la Rosa said.
“Personally, I’m a little disappointed that everyone is asking him about his age and whether he’ll be fast enough now that he’s close to 40. But I’ve also heard such jokes from younger drivers.”
“It’s important that you’re hungry and how confident you are from the inside, have you lost speed? Haven’t you?”
“It’s a bit unfair to say he retired from F1 for two years. He raced in the full WEC season and on the Dakar, he was constantly doing karting, he was constantly in motorsport, it’s not that he was completely out of this sport.”