Fernando Alonso had many rivalries in Formula 1, but his first, against 7-time F1 World Champion Michael Schumacher, was arguably the best.
The Spaniard sat down with Will Buxton, to talk about his experience, battling against Michael Schumacher, for F1’s latest documentary “Michael Schumacher: The Making of a Legend“.
“Drivers of our generation, we grew up, trying to imitate, what Michael was doing.
“My battles with Michael, I have to say, that they were the best moments, of my career.
“You know, even when I was defeated, or when I won the championships, or the races, you know, what happened before racing with him, or what happened after racing with Michael, it was lower intensity.
“It was never the same.
“Going wheel-to-wheel with Michael was tough. It was extremely hard, to fight with him – he knew that he was the strongest, he knew that he was the legend and he defended that position, on track.
“But at the same time, it was fair, it was clean. It was some kind of better satisfaction in a way, because you were dealing with THE legend.
“I was intimidated by Michael, especially in the beginning, when you arrive into Formula 1 and eventually you race together with him, you give this 5% margin to him, because he was the boss.”
“I remember Imola 2005, I kept him behind for 23 laps, even though he was clearly faster. Imola was a tight circuit and it was not possible to overtake, so let’s say, that I won that battle.
“He was extremely happy for me, he was congratulating the team, he was happy, you know, even if he was not winning that particular battle, he was still generous, in terms of congratulating the others.
“In Suzuka 2005, the 130R overtake was planned a couple of laps before it happened, I commited from the beginning of the straight, to make the pass and we had a lot of respect, for each other.”
A controversial stop on track in the Rascasse corner, in qualifying ahead of the 2006 Moanco Grand Prix, by Schumacher, which led to disqualification from the session, made the headlines prior to the race.
“There was some tension in Monaco 2006, I don’t know if it was on purpose or not. Obviously, at that moment, in your own interest for the championship, if you see weak point or a weak movement like that one, you have to emphasize and you try, to make it very obvious. Because you want to make the psychology battle stronger.
“We tried to go deep on that, as well and try to emphasize, that it was a very wrong thing, even if we didn’t know, if it was wrong or right.”
Alonso won his second Formula 1 World Championship title at the 2006 Brazilian Grand Prix, after defeating the all time great for the final time, before his first retirement.
“I’ve always said, to become world champion, when Michael is still racing, it has more value, than after he retires. I was extremely lucky, to win the last two championships, when Michael was still on track.”
Fernando Alonso, Brazil 2006
“The generation of drivers, that we are now in Formula 1 and the ones that are arriving, they are Formula 1 drivers because of Michael.
“I think the legacy of Michael is bigger, than what we all think it is. He had this power, you know, to make things bigger.”