Alpine driver Fernando Alonso is bemused at persistent questions as to whether he is still happy having returned to Formula 1 in 2021.
Following a two-year hiatus after his McLaren departure in 2018, the Spaniard signed with the French team for this year, and managed 15 points finishes on his way to the P10 in the Drivers’ Standings.
He had previously been in the sport for 18 seasons, spanning four teams – Minardi, Renault, McLaren and Ferrari.
The 40-year-old joined the latter from Renault in 2010 having won both his world championships with them, and says he is being asked the same questions about his headspace now as he was nearly 12 years ago.
“When I came to Ferrari, I got exactly the same questions,” he said.
The double F1 world champion went on to detail the specific queries he received regarding why he was in a good place with the Maranello-based squad.
“I still remember: ‘Why are you happy now? Is it because it’s an Italian team and you’re Spanish and it fits better?’ And I said, yes, maybe that’s why. We have the same sense of humour and the same southern character.”
Alonso is renowned for lashing out over the radio, particularly during his second spell with McLaren, where no one seemed to be safe from his stinging remarks.
He grew hugely impatient with Honda and, ironically, Renault during their first season powering the Woking-based team.
He missed the 2017 Monaco Grand Prix to partake in the Indy 500, and contested the World Endurance Championship (WEC) with Toyota during his time away from F1.
This led to yet more question marks over whether he felt better away from the pinnacle of motorsport.
“When I was in the World Endurance Championship, the Dakar or Indy, I was also asked: ‘Why are you more relaxed now? In Formula 1 you seemed frustrated.’ And now I have the same statements again.”
In 2007, the Spaniard endured a rough relationship with McLaren team-mate Sir Lewis Hamilton and team boss Ron Dennis.
He ended the year level on points with the Briton, winning four races and missing out on the title to Kimi Raikkonen by just a single point. A particularly lairy moment arrived during the infamous stalling in qualifying at the Hungarian Grand Prix that year, and there were rumours that Alonso felt uncomfortable at the British team.
“When I fought [Lewis] Hamilton in 2007 on a British team, in a British environment, people got the wrong impression of me and spread the wrong message”.
A bewildered Alonso added: “Everyone is always amazed at how good I feel and how happy I am.”
Alonso will contest the 2022 season with Alpine, but not before he undergoes surgery on his face to remove plates that were added after a cycling accident last February.