Former McLaren driver Pedro De la Rosa has suggested Fernando Alonso refuses to see Formula 1 as a job and is instead ‘100 per cent committed’ to his passion.
Alonso retired from his comeback to the sport in Bahrain after a sandwich wrapper blocked the brake ducts on his Alpine, although the Spaniard had shown pace by qualifying ninth.
De la Rosa, who also drove for Arrows, Jaguar, Sauber and HRT during his career, believes his compatriot’s obsession with motor racing will ensure his return is a success.
“Fernando thinks about motor racing 24 hours a day,” De la Rosa told the F1 Nation podcast.
“Everyone says the same about a champion, about a racer, but actually, when you say it about Fernando you mean it.
“I’ve been with him when he’s not racing in Formula 1 or in WEC [World Endurance Championship] and he’s thinking about ‘we should do a karting race together again’. He’s always thinking ‘what can I race this weekend?’.
“This is quite unique. I’ve been with many drivers… Myself, the weekend I had off I wanted to do other things. I wanted to be at home, I wanted to see my kids, I wanted to be on the bike.
“But for him, it’s not his work, it’s his passion. He’s a passionate man and I think that’s his biggest strength. He doesn’t have any other distractions in his life. He’s a committed man, 100 per cent.”
Eyebrows were raised when Alonso’s return was announced, with the two-time champion’s age brought into question following his two-year sabbatical.
De la Rosa has rubbished suggestions the 39-year-old will struggle because of this, stating such ridicule goes hand-in-hand with the nature of the sport.
“To see him, at his age, coming back, being this hungry is really fantastic,” he added.
“I personally get a bit disappointed that everyone is asking him about his age and if he’s quick enough now that he’s close to 40. But I always got those type of jokes that young drivers made about myself.
“So when Fernando now is obviously not happy when people ask him about his age, I say ‘well you did the same with me, you always took the piss about my age’.
“It’s part of the game, you know? When you see a potential weakness on a competitor you always try to pull the string.”
De la Rosa continued: “The important thing really is how hungry you are inside and how confident you feel inside – have you lost the speed? Have you not?
“It is a bit unfair to say he has been retired from F1 for two years, I mean he has been racing at full level in WEC or Dakar, he’s always been karting, he’s always been in contact with motor racing, it’s not like he’s been out of the sport.”