F1 rivals laud Alonso’s enduring commitment to F1

A number of Formula 1’s drivers have praised Fernando Alonso’s “remarkable” commitment to racing in the sport beyond his 45th birthday, following the announcement of his contract extension with Aston Martin.

Alonso signed a new deal last week that will see him race for the team until at least the end of the 2026 season, turning 45 in July of that year. The Spaniard made his F1 debut in 2001 and is already more than 30 starts clear of any other driver in the sport’s history. Lando Norris says it shows how committed Alonso has been.

“I think it takes a lot of dedication — I don’t think anyone thinks Fernando lacks that in any way,” Norris said. “I think he shows that with everything he does in life, whether it’s at the track, away from the track, in different sports, whatever it is. So it depends what you want to do, everyone’s different.


“It’s rare that you see someone commit for so long in any sport — he’s probably one of the oldest guys at the top of any sport in the world. And to be able to do that at the level that he has done and continues to do, you potentially could never see it again within Formula 1, and if you do it’s going to be extremely rare.

“So a lot of respect for that kind of thing. I have no idea if I want to do it in 20 years time if I am still going strong, but I love where I am now and to continue to do such a thing.”

Charles Leclerc says it’s tough to picture himself still competing in F1 at Alonso’s age due to his desire to race in other categories, but says it’s the level Alonso is driving at that stands out.

“It’s difficult to imagine myself in 15 or 18 years time still in Formula 1,” Leclerc said. “However, we can definitely see how motivated Fernando still is and how high a level he is still performing at the moment, and this is what matters at the end of the day. Age is just a number, but what he’s showing on track is still at a very, very high level.

“On my side I would love to be racing still for many, many years. However, I’m not so sure whether Formula 1… I would like to experience other things. Le Mans is definitely a place you will see me race one day. But while I am fully motivated I will race and I love what I do, so for now that is what I want to do for the longest time possible.”

Alonso won two world titles in 2005 and ’06 to bring an end to Michael Schumacher’s period of dominance, and Esteban Ocon says it’s special to still be fighting against his former team-mate having grown up watching him.

“Huge respect for Fernando,” Ocon said. “Since I’ve been very little I’ve been watching him competing against Michael and these two guys are the guys who gave me the love for the sport, so to still be racing with Fernando now is very incredible.

“Just to see the career he has done, he has won in everything, basically. He has won in karting, he’s won in Le Mans, he’s won in the States in sports cars; almost everything that he’s competed in he has won, and that is more than remarkable and is a dream career for any athlete or racing driver.

“So I don’t know if I will still be racing at his age, but truly his dedication is something that is an example for all of us.”

Story originally appeared on Racer