Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.

Motor Racing

Formula One drivers lack respect says Ferrari's Fernando Alonso


Fernando Alonso feels there is a lack of respect amongst Formula One drivers these days that did not exist many years ago.

Yesterday marked the 30th anniversary of the death of a Ferrari legend in Gilles Villeneuve, and this allowed two-time champion Alonso to reflect on racing past and present.

In particular, Alonso recalled Villeneuve's astonishing duel for second place with Rene Arnoux in the 1979 French Grand Prix when the duo fought wheel-to-wheel over the closing laps.

Even Murray Walker, commentating on the race, hailed the courage of both men at the time as they exchanged positions on a handful of occasions before Villeneuve ultimately held sway.

Alonso believes such a battle now only belongs to a bygone era for a number of reasons, but primarily because respect no longer exists.

"What I know of Gilles is only through films and obviously, the one I remember best is the duel he had with Arnoux at Dijon," said Alonso, in his blog on the official Ferrari website.

"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.

"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.

"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."

Just 17 days ago after the Bahrain Grand Prix, Alonso was left angered by a sharp manoeuvre from Nico Rosberg in his Mercedes that forced him to take evasive action on to a wide run-off area.

As Alonso noted after the race, if there had been a wall to his right rather than an open swathe of asphalt, he would not have been around to discuss the issue.

Remarkably, the stewards took no action against Rosberg, which prompted Alonso to remark on his Twitter account: "I think you are going to have fun in future races! You can defend position as you want and you can overtake outside the track! Enjoy!"

Alonso's words could be tested when, following a short break that included a test in Mugello last week, F1 resumes again in the 30-year-old's homeland of Spain this weekend.

Alonso has so far endured a mixed bag of results in a relatively uncompetitive Ferrari that still managed to win in problematic conditions in Malaysia.

With a number of revisions made to the car throughout the test in Mugello, the hope now is Ferrari and Alonso can rediscover the winning habit over the remainder of the campaign.

Alonso, who trails championship leader Sebastian Vettel by 10 points, said: "In Montmelo 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.

"We have updates on the car, some of which we tested in Mugello last week and others 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.

"The important thing is to make progress, reducing the gap as much as possible, first this weekend, then again in Monaco and after that, in Montreal, Valencia, Silverstone...

"We must continue to work day and night, and with the same spirit of wanting to win and being prepared to fight with all one's strength to achieve that, which is the spirit that has driven me ever since I was a kid racing karts."