Fernando Alonso is having a very good year.
He is leading the 2012 Formula 1 Championship by a healthy 34 points in what most pundits agree is an inferior car compared to the Red Bull and McLaren machines.
With three race wins, he has won more races than any other driver this year. He has also been remarkably consistent, finishing in the points in every race—a feat unequaled this season.
It has been a deliberate ploy.
YallaF1.com quotes Alonso from the Hungarian Grand Prix driver’s press conference,
“We need to maximise what we have at every race; maybe sometimes that means a podium, or sometimes a fifth or seventh place. We can’t afford to make mistakes and it’s much too early to think of the championship, with Red Bull, McLaren, Lotus and Mercedes all in contention,”
At only halfway through the season, it is obviously far too soon to be making title predictions. But Alonso has offered a rare insight into what is motivating his current exceptional form.
He wants to emulate his childhood idol, Ayrton Senna.
At the same press conference, Alonso said,
“Winning a third championship would be very important. It would mean I have the same as Ayrton who was my idol and my reference point when I was in karts and also it would make me the same as other names such as (Niki) Lauda. I hope it comes sooner rather than later!”
Senna and Lauda aren’t bad benchmarks to set yourself to, but should he be aiming a little higher?
While Alonso may have been inspired by Senna, he is more readily likened to Senna’s greatest rival, Alain Prost.
Alonso has a similar no-nonsense approach to his craft—he lacks the flair and flamboyance of the Brazilian and instead has been gifted with the clinical and analytical approach of the Frenchman.
He also has the same ability to complain loudly when things don’t go quite the way that he thinks they should.
Of course, Prost won four titles, so Alonso will need to set his sights a little higher to achieve that milestone. On current form, he’s quite capable of that—he just needs a car that will give him half a chance.
The reality is, however, that while Alonso is in a rich vein of form, he is also facing a grid with five other world champion drivers—Sebastian Vettel, Michael Schumacher, Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen—all of whom are rather keen to claim this year’s championship too.
The fun thing is that this year we’ve seen that anything can happen. So while Alonso is the top rooster at the moment, in two races he could end up being a feather duster.
We’ll all just have to wait and see.