MONTREAL – Fernando Alonso had just four current Formula One drivers at the start of the race in the front row but, a decade later, the double-world champion returned with a push on Saturday.
He qualified second in Canada with Red Bull pole-sitter and championship leader Max Verstapen.
Spaniard’s alpine teammate Esteban Okon was still a long way from Formula One when Alonso, now about 41, made his last appearance on the sharp edge with a pole for Ferrari at the 2012 German Grand Prix.
The other drivers in the race who are still competing are seven-time world champions Lewis Hamilton, Sergio Perez, Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel.
A generation that grew up listening to what Alonso was able to do has seen him go back to the years he won in 2006 at Circuit Giles Villanuev.
The hard-charging Spaniard did not forget what to do – attack.
“The goal is to lead the race,” Alonso said. “Launch a maximum attack. It would be nice and sweet to lead the race. ”
Although Alonso showed a lot of courage, he was realistic that his chances of winning on Sunday were slim.
His great qualifying effort came on a rainy afternoon when the race was expected to be held in dry conditions which would be in favor of top teams Red Bull and Ferrari.
“I’m not sure about the chances tomorrow, I would say we should fight for the top five realistically,” said Alonso, whose best result this season is seventh place in Monaco and Azerbaijan.
“We know our expectations … I think the top four places are locked. So the fifth is like a victory for us and this is probably what we should take.
“It’s unrealistic to think about winning.”
If Alonso has a big advantage, it is the experience of the complex island circuit that has not hosted a race since 2019 due to the Covid-19 epidemic.
“There’s carb riding here and it’s pretty boring, (these) are things you know a lot, many years later,” Alonso said. “I’ve been here 16, 17 years and I’ve always said age and experience always help.”
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