(GMM) Fernando Alonso has denied declaring that he is “better” than 2021 title chargers Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen.
Earlier in Bahrain, the returning two-time world champion was asked if he is still as good after two years away from Formula 1 as when he was racing Hamilton and Verstappen in 2018.
“I’m better,” he responded, triggering a spate of headlines and accusations of arrogance.
However, the 39-year-old said he misheard the question. While he heard ‘are you better than then?’, Alonso was actually asked ‘are you better than them?’
“My answer was that of course I hope to be better because all the experience I’ve gained outside of Formula 1 makes me a better driver,” he is quoted by Speed Week.
“It wasn’t about Lewis or Max or any other driver, first of all because it is very difficult to make comparisons between the drivers and also because they have dominated the sport in recent years.
“So I would never say that I am better than them – that was never my intention,” the Alpine driver insisted.
March 25, 2021
Fernando Alonso claims he’s the best driver in F1 as he prepares to make his Formula 1 return this weekend.
The Spaniard has joined Alpine for the 2021 season following two years out of F1.
“It’s going to be great, and I’m looking forward to it,” Alonso told the BBC.
“There are some young, talented guys who have been showing great performances in the younger categories, and then we still have the champions who were here two years ago; Lewis, Sebastian, Kimi, even Verstappen who even if he is one of the young generation, he has already been racing at the top level for four or five years.
“So I think we have a very competitive grid, and it’s going to be a challenge to beat everyone on track.”
When asked whether, at 39 and after two years out of F1, he can beat the current crop of drivers in F1, his response was rather boastful: “No, I’m better.”
“I’m back in Formula 1 with the aim of doing well, obviously, and the aim of having the chance to win races and hopefully to fight for championships.
“We understand that this year it is not going to be possible because the regulations are a little bit different but basically the same as previous years, so I don’t see any miracles happening there.
“But I think in 2022 there is a chance with the new regulations mixing the order of the grid and we want to be one of those teams that surprises everybody.
“To do that we need to work hard this year.”