Alonso’s natural heir

The schools of Senna and Prost, as if talking about style with Bilardo and Menotti, they explain in a good way the archetype of Formula 1 stars. Those who place classification as the axis of their genius and fly one lap remember the three-time Brazilian champion, Hamilton is the greatest exponent of this stream. The Professor and his students, on the other hand, cement their enormous results on winning single-seaters and stand out for their ability to adapt. It is easier to win with the best car, there is no doubt, but there is nothing easy about staying on top for a decade, changing teams or sharing a garage with legends. Vettel partially fits this description and Schumacher undoubtedly improved the model.

But in this thick outline there is a subculture of alternative drivers, perhaps unclassifiable, who twist the paradigm of Formula 1. Jim Clark won two World Cups in the 1960s and statistical scholars would not consider him in a sea of ​​multiple champions like the Kaiser and Sir Lewis (seven) or his contemporary Fangio (five). But he won 25 grands prix in 72 starts (one in three) and took pole position in nearly half. Beyond the numbers, he elevated the profession of pilot to the category of artist. Like Nigel Mansell, a fighter in the days of Ayrton and Alain: he ‘only’ won a championship. Gilles Villeneuve did not even need a World Cup to rise to the category of myth. Both lost their lives on a circuit and in both cases the quality that endures and that transcends the results is pure talent.

Parallel Statistics

Alonso is another link in the generation of total drivers: the youngest champion of his time, who dethroned Schumacher, protagonist of impossible starts and agonizing victories with a very aggressive and characteristic driving style, especially at the entrance of the curves. Not winning with Ferrari in 2010 and 2012 if anything improved the cache: no one else has been able in recent years to lead the last race without having the best car. Verstappen, the driver of the moment and perhaps of the decade, is today Fernando’s natural heir. The chemistry between the two floats in their statements and cross compliments and the whimsical statistics have wanted the 25-year-old Dutchman to match the Asturian’s two titles on the same day that he also reaches the figure of 32 victories in Formula 1. One reinvented F1 for Spain and the other has turned the Netherlands into the cultural epicenter of the Great Circus.

“One hundred percent from the moment it hits the track”

Born in Belgium (he has never lived in the Netherlands), the son of Jos Verstappen (he was an F1 driver) and Sophie Kumpen with motor racing in his blood, he swept karting as a child (he only lacked the World Cup) and overcame as a mere formality single-seater categories before debuting in F1 at just 17 years old. It was with Toro Rosso. He was promoted to the first team by Red Bull midway through the 2016 season in Spain and he won that race to become the youngest winner ever (18 years, seven months and 15 days). His maturation was not rapid, from that feat he had to overcome a period of precipitation and excessive aggressiveness. But Helmut Marko and company knew what they had on their hands: they poured all the resources around ‘Mad Max’ and turned it into ‘Super Max’. He won the tightest World Cup in history in 2021: on the last lap of the last race, controversy included, against Hamilton and the best Mercedes. He renewed with Red Bull until 2028 (it does not seem that he will continue in F1 afterwards, his career will not be long) for 50 million euros per year. This second title has cost him much less, neither Ferrari nor his drivers were rivals for Verstappen.

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“When you win a championship four races from the end it means you have done something exceptional. Congratulations, welcome to the club. I wish him more luck than I had. I hope that next year I have more rivals and I hope to be in that position too”, Fernando congratulated him. “There are drivers who need more time, study more data, use all of Friday to analyze and compare each small step with their teammate until they arrive one hundred percent ready for qualifying. And there are pilots who are one hundred percent from the first training. Max is one of those, he has been like this since karting and it is not a surprise”, sums up Fernando Alonso about the qualities of the Dutchman (eight seasons in F1, 32 wins, 18 pole positions, 73 podiums and 159 grand prix). “They fully deserve this World Cup, they were the best team and the best driver. Ferrari had a very, very fast car; equal or better. but Red Bull and Max (Verstappen) were impressive. There was no fight, because Red Bull and Max were superior”, he sums up about the season, and closes with a certain irony: “He has a long way to go, but I wish him more luck than I did. Because I had those statistics when I was 26 years old and they are the same ones that I have now. Although I am sure that with Red Bull it can only get better”.

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