In the generational clash between pilots, you are a strange hybrid: what is the secret of your freshness?
“I don’t know very well myself. There is a lot of talk about this rotation, but I don’t think there’s anyone out there, neither am I. As long as I’m competitive and I don’t suffer from travel, why should I stop? “
The years don’t weigh on her.
«Not only that, they are an advantage: I know the circuits well and also how the weather varies in different places. It is an important detail ».
And in his first laps after the start he shows off superpowers.
“They are not superpowers, but qualities that I have been carrying around since I was 25. Since then I have not changed in many things: the general attitude, the search for an extra beyond the performance, the desire for justice for the decisions of the commissioners that I do not agree with. My desire for revenge is always alive. Those who are approaching Formula 1 now wonder why this forty-year-old fights so much, but calmness is not like me ».
What else has he brought with him since he was a boy?
«Competitiveness, need towards myself, pursuit of excellence. Perhaps my colleagues expected that after Indy or Le Mans I would return to aim for ninety percent. On the other hand, I live every race like a World Cup ».
What is particularly proud of?
«Of the two years away from Formula 1: competitive in Indianapolis, winner of the Endurance World Championship and two times Le Mans, I raced in the Dakar at a high level, all of this has a very high value for me. And then, in short: two titles in Formula 1, I raced for Ferrari and McLaren, historical teams. In twenty years I will be able to proudly say to my son: I was not just a Formula 1 driver, which is also a difficult sport and a very specific driving style, but a total driver ».
He could go back to racing elsewhere after Formula 1.
“Of course! My account with the Dakar remained suspended: great challenge from a human point of view, nice people. It is the exact opposite of Formula 1 analytics: if I manage to win it, I will do something unattainable for the drivers of the future ».
Bizarre that she in the Dakar has a teacher named Carlos Sainz, and in Formula 1 a pupil of the same name.
“There has been a very beautiful friendship between us for many years. When I went to school, Carlos Padre was everyone’s idol. We had his toy cars. I actually liked circuits, but dad Carlos was a reference; then I became one for his son. In the end we fought over it ».
What do you mean?
«Carlitos admired me, he wanted to become Alonso. His father one day told me: “You talk to Carlos, he is obsessed with you, but I would like him to dedicate himself to rallying”. In the end I won … ”
Could Sainz come to be worth Charles Leclerc?
“Maybe someday, but we have to give both of them time because they have room for growth. They have only been collaborating for a year and a half and in 2021 they had a car that was not yet competitive. This year he is at the top: Charles has adapted a little better, but he is not yet at one hundred percent either. He has won some Grand Prix in Formula 1 but he is not a world champion, at least not yet ».
Don’t tell me that you still have room for growth too.
“Of course! I learn something every season. This year, lowered tires, new cars, perhaps not as spectacular and light as those of the early 2000s. But the whole of Formula 1 has entered a different era: new fans, new interest, growth in the States, it’s a good time for our sport. I don’t even stop to continue riding this wave ».
How many more years?
“At least two others (at the end of 2024 he will have 43; ed), I know I can give my best but every decision will come after the summer”.
Ocon is under contract with Alpine until 2024 and Oscar Piastri is at the door: do you feel you have to look around, perhaps to change teams?
“No. Oscar is good but the team is free to test us. They know what I’m giving, we had a lot of bad luck with a lost podium in Australia, we were targeted by reliability with the penalty for the fourth engine already in Spain, but in short, I don’t think I have to prove anything ».
Would you be willing to continue with Alpine?
«I feel good with this team, I spent half of my career between Enstone and Viry and continuing with them until the end would make sense. But let’s see what other options there are, but I said it: decision after the summer ».
What does Alpine lack for a qualitative leap?
«A step forward between aerodynamics and engine, then some areas of the team need to be adjusted. Important decisions have been made in the management because we have in Luca De Meo a president at the top, with clear ideas and who believes in Formula 1: a great leader. However, we are on the right path to grow ».
Can Ferrari win the World Cup?
“He certainly has the best car, let’s see if he also has the best team.”
If you led a team, which drivers would you choose?
«Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton, because they are the ones with the most experience».
Hamilton is undergoing the assault from Russell that she underwent from Hamilton in 2007.
«Surely, you are the champion and a young man arrives who often goes faster than you, you have to reorganize yourself. But Lewis had an advantage over me: he made his debut in F1 but I in that team, which for several years had raised him up ».
Does the budget cap save or mortify the World Cup?
“He saves him, the future of our sport is at stake: we need to bring in as many teams as possible”.
In the end, in summary: what have the teams you passed through left you?
“Minardi a sense of family and passion, Renault a sense of home and epic for the challenge to the greats, McLaren technology and deep learning of Formula 1, Ferrari the best memories and the sharing of common values, such as passion for sport. Racing with the Red team should be an obligation for everyone ».
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