Two-time world champion Fernando Alonso has impressed Alpine’s executive director with his in-race analysis in various circumstances along with his hunger to win at the age of 40.
Alonso’s return to F1 was met with massive doubts from the paddock with the belief being that the Spaniard was no longer going to be competitive in the sport, especially against a youngster like Esteban Ocon. Alonso has driven his A521 splendidly in the first half of the season despite starting weakly footed.
Alonso in earlier interviews stressed his eagerness to fight for wins. Budkowski has praised Alonso’s strive for victory and hopes to give the Spaniard a competitive car for next season.
“How long [he’ll go on], it’s a question for Fernando, [but] he doesn’t feel like an old man ready to retire He’s hungry, he’s looking forward to next year. Every time he’s in a factory he’s asking how’s next year car coming along.
“You can see that he’s enjoying it, he’s happy to be back in Formula 1 but obviously he’s ambitious like our ambition is to do better than we’re doing now. That’s what we’re working hard on for next year and he’s excited about that.
“If we give him a competitive car next year, I don’t think he’s going to go anywhere anytime soon, because he’s going to want more and more of it.”
While commending the returning F1 driver for his hunger to win, Budkowski also was impressed with Alonso’s racecraft. Alonso’s abilities on the track were at full display during the Hungarian GP where he held up the reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton in arguably the fastest car for close to 7 laps. This left an impression on Budkowski who has found Alonso’s racecraft inexplicable.
“I’ve worked with a number of drivers a bit more than 20 years in F1 and he is extremely impressive He’s impressive in his approach, which is very, very professional.
“The other thing that blows me away is his racecraft. And I think we’ve seen it in the [Silverstone] sprint race, we’ve seen it in Baku, they were great opportunities to see that.
“What Fernando did in Silverstone was effectively forming a DRS train behind him, because he wasn’t afraid of [Lance] Stroll but he was afraid of [Pierre] Gasly and therefore he eliminated any possible attack from Gasly by putting him in Stroll’s DRS.
“For me, it’s mind-blowing almost because we’re sat on the pit wall, we have all the data, we have full visibility on the race. He is in the car driving at full speed and he has almost the same analysis of the race that we have on the pit wall with nowhere near as much data and an ability to take a step back.
“That’s I think the thing that impresses me the most in Fernando. I guess it’s 20 years of experience driving Formula 1 cars but not many drivers, even with 20 years experience, will be capable of that.”