Here’s truth in its purest form about a specific force of nature in Formula 1.
If it would’ve been any other driver finishing up in fifth, having started the race from ninth on the grid- most of us would’ve said it’s okay, good job.
We’d have exclaimed, “We’ve seen lots of similar stuff happen before. It happens more often than not, given the surprising nature of the sport where predictability finds itself cornered by sheer unpredictability.”
But where it comes to a confident Fernando Alonso, you’d sit back and applaud the effort.
You’d give it greater attention than you’d extend most other drivers.
The truth is, there are good drivers out there and great drivers too, but legends too few and even fewer where it comes to a particular Oviedo-born menacing racing talent.
The race winner at Hungaroring was Esteban Ocon. But given his sheer resilience and unstoppable effort until the final few laps, it could be said, Fernando Alonso was the sentimental hero of the day.
Was He Not?
So intrepidly driven was he outclassing none other than Lewis Hamilton (in the latter half of the race), twenty laps before the contest reaching the checkered flag that one felt it just didn’t matter all that much to Alonso. The latter was competing in an Alpine against a Mercedes.
For what took the driver’s seat where it comes to one’s focus on the proceedings were Alonso’s grit and sheer talent to keep a highly-skilled competitor like Lewis Hamilton behind.
That’s not to forget that the veteran Spaniard car compares meekly to the daunting Mercedes, resembling a deer tasked with defying a panther.
A narrative perfectly suited to a fairy-tale ending or a children’s book tale designed to entertain kids, though surely not a narrative foreseeable and acceptable where plausibility is concerned.
But then there are things that some drivers cannot do and stuff that only a Fernando Alonso can pull off.
To most watching round eleven of Formula 1, the real contest was Ocon versus Vettel, the critical battle out in the front.
Though further down the field, Fernando Alonso added new meaning to the Hungarian contest from the onset of lap 55 until 65, where he went down though not without a fight.
I’m so doing; he shaped the context of a dramatic race with yet more action and, must it be said, entertainment.
The “hard-as-nails” racer ensured Hamilton fans were watching the proceedings with their hearts in their mouth. However, it could also be them being on the edge of the seat as the Spanish maestro ensured the great Briton worked every bit as hard to breach past staunch defences that at some stage looked unbreakable.
A battle that saw a titan of the sport defying a seven-time world champion track position for ten back-to-back laps.
Who’d Have Thought That Would Happen?
Years will pass by, and many will come to step on the podium’s top step here at the Hungaroring. First, however, it must be said. None will be able to finger on how Fernando Alonso kept fending off Lewis Hamilton for fifteen mind-boggling minutes in the Hungary GP. Despite driving a car that was as bland compared to a Mercedes as is a granny in a 100-meter run confronting a first-year college-goer.
And it’s precisely here lies the Fernando Alonso enigma, the man who converts an easy peasy run for a driver in a solid machine into a grinding tussle.
A grand exit out of turn 4 in lap 63, and one thought Lewis had the man, but Alonso was on a higher plane.
Then, when Hamilton inched even closer one lap later, Alonso’s tail just inches ahead out in front, with the Mercedes diving into the inside of the Alpine, Hamilton had to back off for Alonso managed to find that extra rush of pace to stay ahead once again.
Lewis gave it everything: pushing to the outside, going wide at turn 4, using DRS as and when possible, but Alonso held onto his own in a battle that reminded one of a similar scrap between the battling duo at the 2017 Mexican GP, where the-then McLaren driver held off Lewis for four back to back laps in the battle for ninth.
Not that Alonso would be amused by earning the Driver of the Day vote, but one thing is clear- the former double world champion is bullying drivers much younger at that stage in his career where he isn’t getting younger. And yet, here he is, just as driven to succeed as he was back then in the Renault era, where he single-handedly challenged the iconic Michael Schumacher’s authority.
Perhaps little wonder why when they say the three words that capture Alonso’s dauntless spirit are precisely what people use rather half-heartedly or flimsily- “Never Say Die!”
Main Image Credits- Embed from Getty Images