The two-time world champion returned to Formula 1 after a two-year hiatus in 2021. However, Alonso has not been idle in recent seasons and has raced in the Indianapolis 500, the Dakar Rally and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. At the beginning of last year, the Spanish driver joined Alpine and became a teammate of Esteban Ocon. Not only did he and his French team mate take Alpine to fifth place in the Constructors’ Championship, he also played a crucial role in Ocon’s victory at the Hungaroring.
Alonso has previously said he is happier with his return than he initially thought. Looking back on his Formula 1 season, Alonso counters the suggestion that he is happier now than in his previous F1 stint, noting that it is a recurring question.
Battle with Hamilton has given the wrong image
“When I left for Ferrari I got the exact same questions. I can still remember answering such questions then. ‘Why are you suddenly so happy? Is it because as a Spaniard you fit better in an Italian team?’ I said ‘yes, maybe that’s why, we have the same sense of humor, the same Latin character. Maybe that’s why I’m happy,'” Alonso said. “When I came back to McLaren in 2015 it was the same: ‘why are you so happy all of a sudden? Because at Ferrari it seemed like you were frustrated the last two years. Now you’re not fighting for the championship and you’ve had bad years with Honda You still seem happy, why the change?’ Then I went to endurance racing, Dakar and Indy: “Why are you so much more relaxed now? In Formula 1 you seemed pretty frustrated?” And right now I’m getting the same comments again.”
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According to Alonso, people have also misunderstood him following the 2007 Formula 1 season. It was a rather fraught year in which he had newcomer Lewis Hamilton at his side. After an eventful season, it eventually led to a contract termination by mutual consent. “I think my fight with Hamilton in a British team and in a British environment sent the wrong message. Then from 2007 everyone was amazed at how good I felt and how happy I was. It didn’t matter much. I am now happy and I don’t think I’ve been happy in the last few seasons.”
The former McLaren driver does admit to having been tired in his final phase with the British team. It was reason enough for him to look outside the Formula 1 door. “I had other things on my mind, so I decided to retire from Formula 1. Nevertheless, I still enjoyed it and had a fantastic season in 2018. I remember with Zak [Brown] was planning my entry into the Indy 500 in 2017. A year later I also had with Stoffel [Vandoorne] a good relationship. We had a lot of fun. Even when I stopped, there were still plenty of things to do. I’m a happy person, although not everyone sees it that way.”