Webber conflicted on Fernando's return: 'F1 should find the next Alonso'

Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

While his return is "great for the sport", Mark Webber wonders if Formula 1 should be more focused on finding the next Fernando Alonso.

After two years competing in other categories, the double world champion opted to make a comeback in F1 this season, taking the seat at Alpine that was vacated by Daniel Ricciardo.

And explaining his decision, Alonso admits the lure of the sport and the promise of 2022 was too good to ignore.

“In 2018, I was already conscious that maybe with the new regulations in 2021 I could come back," he told Sky Italia.

Also Read:

“Then with the coronavirus, the new regulations have been delayed to 2022 and I found myself not knowing what to do this year.

“But I knew I wanted to come back [to F1] because I’m motivated and feel very lucky because when I decided to switch teams I could just do that, and now I’ve decided to come back in Formula 1, I did that.

“This is a great privilege because there are talented drivers that have never had even the possibility to drive a Formula 1 car."

Now at 39, however, some have wondered if Alonso's time has come and gone in F1, including his friend Webber.

“Mixed emotions on this one for me," he told the On The Marbles podcast. "I have a massive amount of respect for Fernando, he’s one of the best that ever raced.

“What he did against Michael [Schumacher], what he did against Lewis [Hamilton]…he’s done some incredible stuff and on Sundays, there weren’t many better.

“But there’s a point where... I just love youth coming through, I love [asking] ‘where’s the next Max Verstappen? Where’s the next Charles Leclerc?’ They’re great for the sport," the Australian added.

“Fernando’s a big name, huge for Spain, great for the sport, but I just like that our sport should continue to look for the future and find the Alonso we found 20 years ago.”

Alonso Webber

Webber is also worried that, after ending his first stint in F1 in the midfield with McLaren, Alonso's patience with Alpine could run thin if the current optimism fades.

“It’s all happy days when there’s a bit of champagne flying around and Fernando is dominating or even beating his teammate consistently and he’s the one performing and bringing more to the team. That’s all great," he said.

“If it’s the other way around, if [Esteban] Ocon has his measure and the team is mid-pack, there could be some friction because Fernando will not accept being outperformed by Ocon fair and square and if that does happen, that will be a challenge.”