Ecclestone: Fernando Alonso “gave up a little bit” in 2013

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Most Formula One observers will tell you that Fernando Alonso did the best he could in 2013 with a car that was nowhere capable of helping him bring the fight to Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull.

Despite the Ferrari F138’s troubles, Alonso scored victories in China and his home country of Spain en route to a second-place performance in the driver’s championship behind Vettel. The two-time World Champion also became the all-time points leader in F1 history.

But apparently, F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone wasn’t impressed. According to Reuters, the 83-year-old British billionaire has written in a foreword to the official F1 season review that he was disappointed in Alonso’s work this past year.

“I’ve been a little bit disappointed in Fernando because I’m a big supporter of him and of Ferrari,” Ecclestone wrote. “I thought he gave up a little bit which is proof that he was looking for another team.

“I don’t know whether the team is not competitive because of him or because the people who are running the team aren’t getting the job done.”

By its own admission, Ferrari had a tough year that continued a championship drought that has gone on since Kimi Raikkonen’s world title effort in 2007.

The pace of the F138 fell off markedly during the second half of the season, and the Prancing Horse eventually dropped to third in the constructors’ championship behind Red Bull and Mercedes. But the Spaniard is not the one to blame for that.

Enduring through issues like wind tunnel correlation and the mid-year change in tires, Alonso was still able to stay quite competitive; in fact, following the debut of the new tires in Germany, he was still able to collect four podium finishes in the remaining races.

Mr. Ecclestone appears to have a funny definition of what “giving up” means. Because Alonso, regarded by some as the best pound-for-pound driver in the F1 paddock, certainly didn’t do that in 2013.

In any case, it’s potential “bulletin board” material for him and the team from Maranello as they work on reclaiming the throne next year.

F1 2017 driver review: Lance Stroll

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Team: Williams

Car No.: 18
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 1
Best Finish: P3 (Azerbaijan)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 40
Championship Position: 13th

Lance Stroll’s arrival in Formula 1 at the start of the 2017 was a far from smooth one despite a significant private testing program being undertaken in the months leading up to his grand prix debut.

Even with older hand Felipe Massa at Williams, Stroll looked uneasy behind the wheel of the FW40 car through the opening run of races as he failed to reach the checkered flag in any of his first three starts.

The Canadian was left deflated after his first decent effort in Bahrain was cut short after a clash with Carlos Sainz Jr., calling it his “rock bottom” moment – but things would turn around on home soil.

Stroll produced a stunning fight through the field to take an excellent P9 in Canada, proving his talent seen in Formula 3 the previous year and shushing many of his critics.

Better would follow two weeks later in Baku when Stroll became the youngest rookie in F1 history to score a podium, dodging a crazy race to finish third. It would have been second had he not lost a drag race against Valtteri Bottas to the line.

Stroll’s form then fluctuated greatly. He was sublime on occasion, the best examples being Monza, when he started a remarkable P2 on the grid and ended as the top midfielder in P7, or Mexico where he took a brilliant sixth.

But there were too many weekends he was a little anonymous. Sure, Williams didn’t have the best car this year, but perhaps a little better was expected from Stroll.

2018 will be an even bigger challenge as he looks to the lead the team when a new teammate arrives – and at only 19, it is a lot to handle. Nevertheless, there are positive signs to be found; you just need to look for them a little.

Season High: Taking a shock podium in Baku after dodging chaos in front.

Season Low: A poor opening two races in Australia and China.