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Alonso confirmed championship credentials on F1 debut

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Talking on F1’s Past the Grid podcast, Stoddart mirrored on Alonso’s rookie season because the Spaniard joined Minardi on the age of 19.

Alonso joined a workforce that was near going out of enterprise earlier than Stoddart’s European constitution airline firm purchased it in December 2000, and turned up for his first race at Melbourne within the following yr with minimal expertise of the PS01 automobile.

Stoddart felt that Alonso instantly proved himself as a star within the making at Melbourne, the place he certified nineteenth in a automobile that had been hurriedly constructed over the winter, earlier than ending twelfth forward of Benetton’s Giancarlo Fisichella.

PLUS: The radical transformation that pre-dated Renault’s F1 triumph

Earlier than Alonso was set to depart the workforce for a Renault testing contract in 2002, Stoddart added that Alonso’s searing tempo at Suzuka cemented his opinion of the Spanish driver.

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He defined {that a} misunderstanding over a warm-up “glory lap” might have put Alonso within the temper to go all-out within the 2001 finale, the place he fended off Heinz-Harald Frentzen’s Prost to complete a powerful eleventh.

“The primary race [confirmed my view] – Melbourne 2001. A automobile that has had one straight line take a look at for 50 kilometres. That is all it had, and he wrings its neck and brings it house in twelfth place,” Stoddart mentioned.

“Now in order for you one other, it is Suzuka in 2001. In these days we nonetheless had the Sunday morning warm-up and it was a practice that if a driver was leaving, you took all of the gasoline out of the automobile and also you allow them to have a glory lap.

“That was all agreed with me. I used to be known as to a workforce principal’s assembly whereas Sunday warm-up was occurring and for no matter motive, Fernando and his engineer had disagreed about him having a glory run.

“They put gasoline within the automobile. So Fernando did not actually get his glory lap – only a few occasions had truly Fernando complained, however that was one in every of them.

Fernando Alonso, Minardi PS01 European.

Photograph by: Motorsport Images

“He got here straight to me and I did not even find out about it. He mentioned, ‘I did not get mad, however they put gasoline in my automobile.’

“I mentioned, ‘look, I can not do something about it. I am actually sorry, Fernando, I did say to provide the glory lap’. However Fernando wasn’t going to depart it at that.

“If anybody appears to be like on the historical past of that race in Suzuka, Fernando put in 53 qualifying laps. If ever the world wanted to know the way good he was, take a look at the tapes!”

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Stoddart mentioned that he first turned conscious of Alonso as a competitor within the 2000 F3000 season; the Australian’s European Arrows squad with lead driver Mark Webber ceaselessly battled towards the Astromega-run automobile piloted by Alonso.

Qualifying on pole for the Spa finale, Alonso beat team-mate Marc Goossens by virtually 15 seconds in a shocking efficiency on the Belgian circuit. Citing that race, Stoddart replied that he “just about” knew what he was getting with Alonso on the workforce.

“Being a competitor to him in System 3000, in 2000, I noticed him drive at Spa that yr, which was a masterpiece of driving,” mentioned Stoddart.

“He’d come to my consideration all through that yr in 2000, however he was by no means out of my thoughts after that good race at Spa.

“However Fernando, in these days and nonetheless even when he was with us, was very quiet and really unassuming. He simply obtained on and did the job.

“I watched that race and what I noticed in him that day was ‘it is a man that is destined to be world champion’, even earlier than he’d even obtained in an F1 automobile.

“And I wasn’t flawed, besides he ought to have had 4 [titles] – not two.”

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