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Alonso brushes off career-move critics: ‘I think I’m doing OK’

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Fernando Alonso has brushed off criticism regarding his team moves through his Formula 1 career, believing he is “doing OK” despite having not won a world title in 11 years.

Alonso took back-to-back F1 drivers’ championships in 2005 and 2006 with Renault, but subsequent stints with McLaren, Renault (again), Ferrari and McLaren (again) have failed to yield a third title.

Alonso enjoyed near-misses in 2007, 2010 and 2012, but now finds himself battling towards the back of the field amid ongoing power unit problems for McLaren’s partner, Honda.

The Spaniard failed to score any points through the opening five races of the season before missing the Monaco Grand Prix so he could enter the 101st Indianapolis 500, where he retired after leading 27 laps following an engine failure.

Speaking to The Mail on Sunday in the UK, Alonso stressed that winning a third world title remains his priority, but added that he does not understand criticism regarding perceived wrong team moves through his time in F1 as he has still enjoyed some success.

“My first priority is Formula One and to win my third world championship. My second priority was to enjoy the experience of Indy 500, and I managed to do that,” Alonso said.

“I read that people are sad. They want to see me at the front more, winning more. But when I went to Indy it was a totally different environment and the people still respected me a lot. They expected something to happen on the track.

“I made each move from one team to another because I felt it was right in my heart. And if you go back 17 or 18 years, I was traveling in my dad’s van to go-kart races in Italy.

“I could have been working in a supermarket at home in Oviedo. And now I come to America and the people follow me everywhere.”

“I don’t agree with: ‘What a shame. Alonso should have done this or that’.

“I have won 97 podiums and two titles. I think I’m doing OK.”

Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
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Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry.

The idea of Hamilton attending the season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it only would be fitting if Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — spent some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).