Alonso confident of picking up F1 points in Brazil this week
SAO PAULO (AP) — Two-time Formula 1 champion Fernando Alonso is almost in retirement mode, but doesn’t think it is time to relax just yet.
The Spanish driver said on Thursday he can score the last points of his 17-year career at the Brazilian Grand Prix on Sunday. The 37-year-old believes the Interlagos circuit is more suited to his McLaren than Abu Dhabi, where the season ends on Nov. 25.
Occupying 10th position in the drivers’ championship with 50 points, Alonso said the expectation of rain on Saturday and Sunday could help him pick up points at the track where he won his titles in 2005 and 2006. He has never won in Sao Paulo, but finished second on three occasions.
“If we want to score points, this is the chance for us,” said Alonso, who will quit F1 at the end of the campaign. “We have some uncertain weather for Saturday and Sunday. Maybe that gives us more possibilities.”
Alonso last scored points in September when he finished seventh at the Singapore Grand Prix. That is the only time he has been among the top 10 in the last seven races.
The McLaren driver scored points in the first five races, but he then had six abandonments and also produced some lackluster performances.
“I didn’t even have a chance to fight in the last races,” he said.
Alonso added that Interlagos had given him some good memories, and what he called “several media moments.”
In 2015, at the end of a poor season for McLaren, the Spaniard decided to relax after his car broke down during qualifying in Sao Paulo, sitting on a chair at the side of the track and sun-bathing.
On Thursday, a similar chair filled with signatures was placed next to the paddock area where Alonso spoke to journalists.
“Keep the best F1 moments in mind!,” said a message from ‘Sebastian’, although it was unclear if it came from Ferrari’s Vettel.
“Enjoy your retirement watching Disney videos,” another message read.
At the end of that same 2015 Brazil race, Alonso and his then teammate Jenson Button climbed onto the podium. They had finished 15th and 14th respectively.
“Jenson and I walked next to the podium and we realized we weren’t going to be there anytime soon. So we decided it was a good idea to take a picture,” Alonso said, referring to the fact his previous podium had dated back to the 2014 Hungarian Grand Prix where he finished second.
The McLaren driver, once considered the most talented on the grid, has yet to reveal what the future holds for him, but McLaren’s sporting director Gil de Ferran said Alonso had been talking to him about the IndyCar series.
“I told him what is good and what is bad there,” De Ferran explained. “But moving there is a very personal decision.”
Last year, Alonso skipped the Monaco Grand Prix to race at the Indianapolis 500, driving for Andretti Autosport in a McLaren-branded car. His car broke down when he was seventh and there were 21 laps to go, but fans still gave him a standing ovation.
New McLaren test driver Sergio Sette Camara said he was trying to get advice from the former world champion in his final F1 days. On Wednesday, the 20-year-old Brazilian had a chance to ask a question during a team meeting in Sao Paulo.
“I asked how he could manage to be among the best drivers for so long without feeling tired,” Sette Camara said. “He answered that he is always tired. But his will to win pushed him on.”
Alonso said that was the spirit he will maintain in his final F1 days.
“They will be three weeks of a lot of intensity,” he said. “But they will be the last ones.”
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