Fernando Alonso has hit back at former driver Johnny Herbert after he said that the Spaniard should considering retiring from Formula 1.
Alonso will miss this Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix through injury after suffering a fractured rib in a terrifying crash in Australia two weeks ago.
The Spaniard is unsure he will be fit for the next race in China, with his McLaren seat being taken by reserve driver Stoffel Vandoorne in the interim.
Sky Sports pundit Herbert, who raced in F1 between 1989 and 2000, told the British broadcaster’s website that he thinks Alonso should not return and instead retire altogether.
“I don’t think Fernando should come back,” Herbert said. “The reason why I say that with the Fernando at the top of his game, and the last time we saw that was probably in 2011-12 at Ferrari, you could always sense there was a real urgency, particularly in his qualifying laps, he was right on the edge.
“I know things have changed as far as the cars are concerned, but as far as performance is concerned we haven’t seen this two-time world champion that everyone says is the best. I don’t see it. And we haven’t seen domination at McLaren and Jenson [Button] has done a better job.
“He’s commented that he’d be happy to leave F1 with two world championships – that is a man who has not just given up the chance of winning another, but that effectively is giving up on racing.
“He had the incident in Barcelona and he didn’t go racing, but when a driver has an accident usually they want to get back in the car – when I crashed I told everyone I wanted to get back in the car.
“But even with his crash in Australia we still didn’t get that.”
Alonso and McLaren apparently lobbied to race in Bahrain despite being ruled out by the FIA doctors on Thursday, with Autosport reporting that the FIA rejected this fresh call.
During a live TV broadcast ahead of practice in Bahrain, Alonso briefly entered the shot and interrupted Herbert, who asked the Spaniard if he was retiring.
“No, I’m a world champion. You ended up as a commentator because you weren’t champion,” Alonso hit back before walking off, leaving Herbert to just say: “Thanks”.
Alonso also sent out some cryptic tweets after the comments had been made.