December 4, 2015

The most fun Fernando Alonso had racing in 2015

If F1 fans thought 2015 was painful to watch, imagine what it must have felt like to "Fred" Alonso: 

Sidelined by a yet to be (and probably never to be) explained testing accident, 7 DNF's, scoring a measly 11 championship points,  Alonso tried to convince anyone who would listen how he was certain his decision to "leave" Ferrari was the right one.

But that's the public figure. 

Underneath, Fernando the racer is still alive and well as Gordon Mellis tells us.

Fernando Alonso – Still a Winner Away From the F1 Circuit

A Good News Story from (just after) the Season Finale!
By Gordon Mellis

Formula 1 drivers are much maligned these days, accused of being devoid of any personality and shunning any real connection with the fans. Take the F1 drivers race day parade as an example, when the vast majority of drivers are too preoccupied amongst themselves to wave or even acknowledge the fans and Marshals trackside, (which after all is the whole point of the exercise!).

However, glimpses of personality and hope may be appearing for F1 fans from some drivers over the last few race weekends of the year, first we had Alonso relaxing in the chair photo and the Photoshop variations that went viral on the web, followed by the Button and Alonso mock pose on the podium after their retirements in Brazil.

Then last weekend we had Daniel Ricciardo’s impromptu dance session topped by the ever upbeat and increasingly affable Sebastian Vettel, when he elected to sing happy birthday to his Race Engineer at 300kmh while hitting every apex around the Yas Marina circuit during one of the sessions at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, a gesture that surely gained him thousands of new fans (Including me).

This has all been a welcome contrast from the sulking and temperamental displays of Lewis Hamilton this year when he doesn’t :  a) Get on the top step of the podium,  b) Agree with the engineer’s strategy or c) Feel 100% of the love quota from the Mercedes team.

So you would think that given the torrid, horrible and totally demoralising season that former world champion Fernando Alonso has had to endure at the other end of the grid this year, that the last thing FA would be interested in would be grass roots motorsport this case karting, arguably the purest form of motorsport and the first step on the career ladder to Formula 1.

But nothing could be further from the truth, for less than 24 hours after yet another lack lustre race in the season finale, where ‘FA ‘felt aggrieved by inconsistent officiating and an undeserved penalty, F1 superstar Fernando Alonso turns up at the ‘Dubai Kartdrome’, for one of the circuits regular Sodi World Series (SWS) races, first to present the trophies to the winning junior drivers on the podium, and then, to the absolute astonishment and delight of all the other competitors, enters and competes in the senior SWS races.

Alonso, an occasional visitor to the Dubai Kartdrome, had previously competed in the circuit’s prestigious endurance and leisure (but highly competitive) karting events, where he has driven, without any fuss, airs or graces, and has always willingly posed for photographs and happily signed autographs for the young kart drivers who aspire to follow in his tyre treads.

But on Monday night, in a search for the close wheel to wheel racing action that has been missing from his F1 season, the McLaren F1 driver quietly and effectively went about his business and was soon on the pace, qualifying second fastest. But despite his F1 world champion status, the races proved that track and seat time are paramount in any racing vehicle and with the spotlight on Fernando throughout, he could only manage 4th and a 5th in the races, still credible, but he did go on to show his prowess by setting the fastest lap of the entire SWS season in the final race.

But forget the results, Fernando proved that you don’t have to be on the podium to be a ‘real winner’, for in an absolutely epic demonstration of his character, stature and his absolute love of all things motorsport he unselfishly put aside all the disappointments and frustrations of Honda’s F1 unreliability, the semantics and political bickering at McLaren, the will he – won’t he race in 2016 speculation to give his fellow competitors and junior drivers a night they will always remember, creating countless opportunities for them to retell “when I raced with Alonso” stories.

Dubai Kartdrome Assistant Circuit Manager, David Bright commented on Facebook “It was great to see people's facial expressions last night at SWS Race night, when they realised Fernando Alonso would not only be doing podium presentations, but racing himself! Hats off to the guy....less than 24hrs after finishing the final Formula 1 race on the calendar, he enters an SWS kart race! The guy is a legend and true racer. A motorsport role model and a credit to the sport!” Hear Hear......Let’s hope the rest of the F1 grid takes note.......motorsport fans and the general public need (and want) to see the human side of the drivers and not just a helmet flashing by at speed.

So if you want to race karts and have a chance to get up close and maybe, just maybe race against a F1 world champion, get down to the Dubai Kartdrome and sign up to race in the Dubai SWS series.

Fernando, you are a class act! More of the same please.

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