In 2007, Fernando Alonso was pitted against a fresh-faced rookie called Lewis Hamilton and lost the inter-team battle to the F1 rookie. A decade on, and it’s Stoffel Vandoorne’s turn to measure his potential.
Fernando Alonso is quite the benchmark. He’s tenaciously quick and still has an appetite for a third world title. Questions have naturally been raised about how he feels to be competing against the promising Vandoorne in 2017, the parallels to 2007 enough to make Alonso slightly lose his shit.
“Every teammate I met after Hamilton it was the same question.
When I joined Renault, the following year, it was Piquet. So they said, ‘GP2 frontrunner, a young guy, so it will be the same as Hamilton.’ It was not. Then it was Grosjean. They said, ‘GP2 frontrunner, in 2009 Grosjean will be very fast.’ He was not fast.
Same with Felipe. ‘Be careful, because in Ferrari, many years for Felipe, he’s used to the team, he will be very fast.’ He was not fast.
Then it was Kimi, they were saying, ‘A world champion is coming back to Ferrari, he’s very, very fast.’ He was not fast.
Let’s see how is Stoffel. I am not worried, we are not at the moment in a title position, or a title contender, so that we need to fight. Now we are in a moment where we need to work together, and we need to help the team in whatever way we can to make this difficult period as short as possible.
So I’m happy with the arrival of Stoffel, new fresh air, very talented in GP2 and in Japan this year. But I’m not afraid…”
– Fernando Alonso
It’s a pretty ballsy statement from Alonso that expects Vandoorne to follow the trend of apparently ‘not being fast’. Alonso is right in that McLaren won’t be fighting for Championships next season, so there won’t be an all-out rivalry between them. There’ll be a comparison though and the Belgian is no pushover.