For the fans who love Formula 1, watching a free-practice session may not exactly hold incredible value as compared to a qualifying battle or the main race. But when you are a certain Fernando Alonso, a double world-champion, then you are bound to take the audience by sheer surprise even where it comes to the most nondescript events.
For instance, take the free practice 2 of the recent Portuguese Grand Prix held exactly a week ago.
What Fernando Alonso did in Portuguese GP FP carried tremendous signficance
With the tarmac comprising of the greats in Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and the up and rising Max Verstappen, it was none other than Fernando Alonso who emerged fifth-fastest on the time charts.
Remember his time?
The man described as the Samurai of F1 ended just 0.4 seconds from topping the time sheets. But there was yet more to the outcome; this was the first time ever that Fernando Alonso had embraced the topsy turvy Algarve International Circuit at Portugal that challenges gutsy drivers with gusting winds.
Good drivers look acing at the main battles, but great fighters ready themselves for literally everything.
From sadness to a fine return
There was a hint of sadness about Fernando Alonso and perhaps ‘no looking back’ to the sport that had left him in massive disappointment in 2018. He did do the donuts out there at Abu Dhabi but there was no sweetness to the aftertaste.
But two years later, a time he spent conquering newer venues and events he’d hitherto never previously braced, Fernando Alonso has returned to the grid but akin to that sporty teenager looking to outsmart everyone in the first year of college.
He seems refreshing, he’s hungry to do better and he’s willing to take the battle to a young French teammate fifteen years younger with perhaps the same reflexes he’d take to destroy a Perez or Bottas, arguably speaking had be been aligned in the same machine.
But honestly, it doesn’t matter. For Alonso is making quite a few dashing moves in a car you’d label as a thrifty midfielder- the Alpine Formula 1 team.
As a matter of fact, the last time he drove around his home track, the famous Circuit of Catalunya, he neither had the car or the moves to create magic, driving around in circles in a remorseful McLaren that was akin to a friend who’d always backstab you.
Yet, that Fernando Alonso bagged an eighth in the 2018 Spanish GP, unless you’ve very much forgotten the effort, was something no less than a podium finish for a driver stymied by a recalcitrant F1 machine.
Though this time around, the gods seem to be smiling on a man they’ve blessed with the fighting skills of a Samurai, the only man from the Ferrari stable who could ever take the fight to the unsparing and marauding Sebastian Vettel in those Red Bull years.
Surely, had fans been there in the grand stands today, they’d have offered a standing ovation to a 39-year-old bagging a very handy P10 at Barcelona.
That there are none wouldn’t matter much to the man from Oviedo who knows his task is cut out for Sunday.
Keep Stroll and Vettel at bay and get off to a start clean as a whistle.
That he’s won here in the past in 2013- arguably one of his greatest wins ever- and 2006 should inspire Fernando Alonso contesting in a car that’s as far from a Merc or Red Bull’s pace as is Mazepin from making it to Q3.
Moreover, if his team supports him from the race strategy department, he might not be too far from seeing a P7 or probably a P6 race result.
Surely, if an inexperienced teammate can overcome horrible understeer trouble to go higher up on Alonso during the qualifying then the main man can certainly come out all daggers drawn on Sunday- right?
Are you listening Fernando? It’s lights out and away we go.