Damon Hill has praised Fernando Alonso for his "clever" approach to racing after the Spaniard's performance at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. During Saturday's qualifying session, Alonso was criticised by Alex Albon, who took to the team radio to accuse the Alpine man of driving too slowly at the end of Q1. Alonso was not investigated by the stewards over the matter. While this may not have gone down well with Albon, Hill admits that he can't help but be impressed by some of Alonso's tactics. "I like him. He's so cunning. He's a clever [guy]," Hill told the F1 Nation podcast.
Hill has admiration for "trickster" Alonso
Hill feels that Alonso balances out his "tricks" with still delivering performance-wise, given that the two-time World Champion finished P7 in Baku. "Alex Albon called him an incredibly smart guy, because he was up to games in qualifying," Hill commented. "He was definitely up to his old tricks, but we kind of have a sneaky admiration for the trickster, the guy who somehow can play everything to his own advantage, and he does it with a little cheeky smile as well. "And he performs; it's not like he's being a nuisance and not delivering. He's delivering, and he delivers for Alpine. "I'd rather have him in [the team] than outside and doing the same to you."
Will age prove a factor for Alonso?
Alonso will turn 41 in July, making him the oldest driver on the current F1 grid. Hill believes that age "gets you eventually", though admits that this does not seem to be the case for Alonso just yet given his current level of performance. "Exhaustion doesn't seem to have set in, or a lack of enthusiasm," the 1996 World Champion said. "If you said to him now, 'We've got one more crack at the front end', he jump at it, he'd be there and he'd probably win. "The problem is, for a top team, how long is he going to be there for, and how much carnage will there be once he starts to – which he tends to do – get involved in the running of the company and the politics of it?" However, in terms of this, Hill thinks that Alonso has "learned his lesson", adding: "He definitely overstepped the mark when he was at McLaren in the first age, and also in Ferrari."