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Fernando Alonso

Alonso: Only one difference over 17-year time gap

What has changed in Fernando Alonso from 2007 to now? Find out more below.

Alonso Miami
Interview
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Pedro de la Rosa feels there is only one discernible difference between the Fernando Alonso of today and the driver he knew at McLaren 17 years ago.

De la Rosa was a test driver with the Woking-based team in 2007 when Alonso arrived as a newly-crowned two-time F1 champion after winning back-to-back drivers' titles with Renault.

That year proved to be a tumultuous campaign for Alonso alongside Lewis Hamilton in his rookie season, resulting in the Spanish driver leaving at the end to return to Renault.

Despite what went on both on and off track at McLaren, De la Rosa feels that to this day Alonso has not changed one iota in terms of his meticulous approach to racing, with the exception of one key asset he did not possess at the time.

"People ask me what is the difference between Fernando of 2024 and the 2007 driver I met at McLaren - and it's nothing," said De la Rosa, speaking in an exclusive interview with RacingNews365. "There is absolutely no difference whatsoever."

The 53-year-old then quickly stated: "The only thing I would add is that he has become a great leader in the sense that he knows now how to express his feelings very well, which he didn't back in 2007, mainly because his English was not as good.

"So now, every message he sends, every time he's talking to the engineers on the intercom, he's always leading by example, always sending the right message to all the departments.

"When we talk on the intercom on a race weekend, it's not just the 20 engineers sitting at the table [in the office at the circuit], there are 100 more in the factory, and I think he's learned how to motivate all those people who are as important as the ones [at the track] to win.

"It has impressed me a lot, his improvement in the English language. He doesn't have a good accent - probably like me, we have a terrible accent - but he always speaks the right words. His brain is very fast."

As to those particular qualities which have remained unaltered over time, from when Alonso was 25 when he joined McLaren to the 42-year-old he is now with Aston Martin, De la Rosa gave a glowing indictment of a man who, like fine wine, has aged well.

"Basically, it's his passion," said De la Rosa. "It's just his desire to win, his desire to never give up, to always keep learning, which, at his age, with what he's won already, it's like a masterclass.

"How hard he works, during the weekends, outside the weekends, how hard he pushes himself and how he lives motor racing is what I really love about Fernando."

Offering a perfect example as to Alonso's competitive and attention-to-detail mindset beyond F1, De la Rosa added: "We sometimes go karting together. We do the 24-hour race of Dubai sometimes, you know, for fun, but actually it's not fun for him.

"How he prepares himself, how he leads the team, how [he is in] the strategy meetings, and it's a 24-hour race, sometimes I tell him, 'Man, we're coming here for fun'. And he says, 'It's for fun, but we still need to prepare well'.

"These are the things I just admire about him."

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