Alonso enchanted Stoddart at a young age: ‘Should have had four titles, not two’

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Alonso enchanted Stoddart at a young age: ‘Should have had four titles, not two’

Fernando Alonso managed to convince former Minardi team owner Paul Stoddart at a young age. The Australian saw the current Aston Martin driver drive in the entry-level classes and already knew that Alonso had it in him to become world champion. When the man from Oviedo made his debut in Formula 1, he only confirmed the feeling that Stoddart already had.

Alonso already managed to impress Stoddart when he was still driving in Formula 3000. During a race on the Spa-Francorchamps circuit, the Australian already knew exactly what he was getting. “I watched that race and what I saw in him that day, even before he got into a Formula 1 car, was: this is a man destined to be world champion,” Stoddart says in the Beyond the Grid- podcast. “And I wasn’t wrong, except he should have had four titles—not two.”

His first Grand Prix in Melbourne also confirmed my feeling. Alonso had signed with Minardi’s team for the 2001 season, a team that was on the verge of collapse before Stoddart decided to make an investment. In 2001 the car was therefore a collected mess. “It was a car that had only done one test of 50 kilometers. That was all we had done, and Alonso gets everything out of the car and crosses the line in twelfth place.’

Stoddart: “If you want to know how good Alonso was, look at the tapes”

The story of the Japanese Grand Prix in 2001 also stays with Stoddart. “In those days we still had the warm-up on Sunday morning and it was a tradition that when a driver left, you took all the fuel out of the car.” The team had just put fuel in the car, which prevented Alonso from completing his lap. “Fernando never complained, but now he does. He couldn’t let go and put in 53 qualifying laps. If the world ever needed to know how good he was, look at the tapes,” said Stoddart.

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