Date published: March 27 2020
Former Benetton and Renault team boss Flavio Briatore believes Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso were on a par with each other.
Schumacher, a seven-time World Champion, claimed his first two titles under the guidance of Briatore at Benetton in 1994 and 1995.
Briatore then repeated that achievement in 2005 and 2006 by taking Fernando Alonso to back-to-back titles as part of Renault, ending Schumacher’s five-year dominance of the series.
And even though those were the only two World Championships of Alonso’s career, Briatore believes the Spaniard was on the same level as Schumacher.
“Who is better, Messi or Ronaldo? I don’t know,” was Briatore’s reply on the Beyond the Grid podcast when comparing Alonso and Schumacher.
“Fernando is Spanish but was less emotional than Michael. With his relationship with the mechanics, Michael was pushing everybody to the limit, but Fernando as well.
“Fernando is kind of a Rottweiler, you know he never gives up in a race.”
Briatore pointed to the 2005 San Marino Grand Prix at Imola and the battle between the pair for victory, ultimately won by Alonso, as the point where he realised both drivers were at the same level.
“For me there was one race, in Imola. We won the race and Michael finished second. You see these two champions were basically similar,” he said.
“For 15 or 20 laps, Michael [driving for Ferrari] was in the gearbox of Fernando. Fernando put zero mistakes; Michael put zero mistakes. Amazing, amazing, amazing.
“Always, I’ve had this race in my mind. For me, there were very similar drivers.”
Alonso left Formula 1 after the 2018 season, and after exploring challenges outside of the series, he has confirmed that he is looking at a possible return for 2021.
Briatore feels that if the 38-year-old does come back, then he can take the fight to any driver in the right car.
“A hundred percent, he’s a Rottweiler, one hundred percent,” he explained.
“There are a lot of contracts expiring, with people moving up and down. We’ll see.”