Fernando Alonso has defended Mercedes’ use of team orders in Russia, saying critics of the decision are simply jealous of the team’s current dominance of Formula One.
Mercedes’ decision to ask Valtteri Bottas to move over and let Lewis Hamilton through during the Russian Grand Prix was controversial, but helped the latter build a 50-point gap over Sebastian Vettel with five races to go. The team defended the call afterward, with team boss Toto Wolff saying he would rather be the “baddie” now than the “idiot” at the end of the season.
The decision split opinion, with some fans angry that Mercedes had not allowed its drivers to race. Alonso feels it is natural for people to be annoyed with a team that has been on top for so long.
“I do not have much opinion,” Alonso told Spanish media ahead of this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix. “Every team responds differently, but when you are first and second, you are world champion four times in a row, both drivers’ and constructors’ and this year you are leading the world championship, all they say [bad] about Mercedes is jealousy.
“They are not doing things wrong when they are the great dominators of this sport. For them, what people say goes in one ear and out the other. It seems they are not doing badly, what they are doing.”
Alonso is set to leave F1 at the end of 2018. The Spaniard insists he is enjoying every moment of it even if McLaren is not in a position to give him a competitive send-off.
When asked whether he was just counting down the time until he was done with the championship, he said: “No, the opposite, the opposite. Fantastic feeling.
“Every race now from the moment I decided to stop, it’s just a celebration. I can’t wait to go to Austin now and see again the place, drive around these cars. Maybe we’re not the fastest when you see the times at the end of the session, but every lap feels fantastic. It’s not that I don’t love Formula One anymore, I still love F1, I still love these cars.
“If I stop now, it’s because I am 37 years old and I achieve all my dreams in Formula One, or more than what I dream of, and now I have other dreams. It’s like when you do something in your life, you already did that, you try to find different challenges. I was extremely lucky here, and I will try to find something else.”