Alonso harks back to golden era of close racing

MANAMA • Fernando Alonso yesterday led calls for "closer" racing to be at the heart of Formula One's blueprint for the future.

"I think it could be a closer battle, that will be always welcome, but it has been always like that in Formula One," said the Spaniard with owners Liberty Media due to unveil their master plan for the sport ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Speaking at a news briefing, the two-time world champion said it was sad he could, on a Thursday, forecast the grid that will emerge from qualifying tomorrow.

"I remember watching the TV in the old days. I saw a race on television last week, a race from 1990 or 1989 and apart from the first four cars everyone was lapped. We remember that time like a golden era with big names," he said.

"I think now if you watch a race of IndyCar, or whatever, that unpredictable result until the last 10 laps makes you excited in front of the television. But now in F1 here we can write down the qualifying order for this race, right now, on Thursday and that's a little bit sad."

His call for closer competition was backed by Valtteri Bottas of Mercedes.

F1's managing director of motorsport Ross Brawn is expected to reveal Liberty's plans for the sport from 2021, finalised in liaison with the ruling body International Automobile Federation (FIA).

Alonso, meanwhile, believes he and McLaren can unsettle F1's top teams this season and challenge for podium finishes. The fifth-placed finisher in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix two weeks ago said he hopes to be in the mix again in Bahrain.

McLaren's switch to Renault power after a desultory experience with Honda has revitalised the team, giving them a shot at some long-awaited success, he said.

"We have closed the gap now and shown we can do it," he added. "For me, I believe the next two months are crucial for us in this year's championship - and if we are not fighting for the championship itself, then we are for regular podiums and finishes in the top six.

"It is the first time in the last three years that we have been in this position and now it is up to us to deliver the results."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 06, 2018, with the headline 'Alonso harks back to golden era of close racing'. Print Edition | Subscribe