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Mark Gallagher: Alonso could be Verstappen’s Red Bull teammate

22 Apr | news | BY Betway Insider | MIN READ TIME |
Mark Gallagher: Alonso could be Verstappen’s Red Bull teammate
Source: Alamy Stock Photo

In our exclusive interview, F1 expert Mark Gallagher discusses Fernando Alonso’s future and whether Sergio Perez should leave Red Bull.

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What have you made of the season so far?

It has very much been what we expected, which is that Max Verstappen and Red Bull would come out as the dominant team and that’s what they have done. It has been interesting to see Adrian Newey and the team take the design of the RB20 to another level and be highly innovative. It’s a little bit less predicted because a lot of people expected them to do a bit of evolution on last season’s car, but they’ve gone for something a bit more radical.

The thing is a flying machine and Max Verstappen should continue winning easily because his advantage is so strong. The only reason he didn’t win in Australia was a rather unusual brake failure, which is almost a once-in-a-blue-moon thing to happen. It was great to see Carlos Sainz win and that’s at least given the championship a different sort of flavour because we have had a Ferrari win in the first couple of races, but the fact is, Max’s advantage is significant. Sergio Perez has done what Sergio does and he’s a little bit inconsistent but ultimately doesn’t quite have the pace that Max has with his car because the evolution of the car has been driven by Max’s performances and maybe suits his style better.

It’s not surprising to see Ferrari quick because they were quick last year. They have been threatening to be up there for the last couple of years. We expected them to be quick this year and it’s been proven. McLaren have also continued their resurgence, so it has been nice to see Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri looking quite clever. Aston Martin are there or thereabouts. They haven’t got back to where they quite were at the beginning of last year, but they are looking pretty sensible being in the top six or top eight with Fernando.

The biggest shock of the season is how far off Mercedes are. They seem to be continuing to go backwards even though they are working hard to be competitive again, and it couldn’t come at a worse time. Lewis is leaving and the team seems to be on the slide and that’s actually been quite shocking to watch. It’s probably the biggest story so far, rather than the fact that Max Verstappen is out there winning. It’s the degree to which Mercedes have continued to slide. The big question is, can they stage a mid-season recovery like we saw from McLaren last year?

Where do you see Fernando Alonso’s future?

It’s an interesting one. Fernando has produced big surprises before, like going to Aston Martin, so I wouldn’t put it past him to make a big surprise again. There is still a question mark over Red Bull. We have to remember that next year is the final year of the current regulations and Alonso, given his age but also his motivation, is up for continuing. I don’t see any indication that his motivation or ability have gone. He remains a big name and I could see a one-year deal somewhere else happening. He might say one thing to the media about Mercedes in an interview but that’s not going to change whether he would seriously look at that or not.

He could look at Mercedes or Red Bull if an opportunity happens there. If Sergio Perez and Red Bull weren’t to agree on terms for next year, could you see Fernando Alonso slotting in at No. 2 to Max Verstappen? What a fascinating prospect that would be – it would be a huge amount of fun to see those two together.

I am going to counter some of the headlines I have seen that Fernando is heading to the exit door in Formula 1 and say I don’t think he wants to go, and I think there has never been a better moment for a surprise to happen that allows him to have one last crack in 2025 before the current regulations end. He’s not going to win another championship but, my goodness, he could win another race.

Red Bull must reflect from time to time on the fact that Sergio Perez has done a great job and has been really solid but, at times, worryingly inconsistent. The worrying thing is Red Bull can’t really afford to have a No. 2 driver that goes through bad patches, they need a consistent performer – very much in the way Valtteri Bottas won the Grand Prix 10 times and was teammate to Lewis Hamilton. I suspect that Mercedes looks back at the Hamilton-Bottas era very fondly.

That was a very strong line-up and perhaps there were times when Bottas didn’t get the best out of what was provided to him, but as the general rule he was an incredibly strong No. 2. I think Fernando is a fascinating prospect for next year. Aston Martin certainly fell in love with him, and I imagine he has a strong relationship there, but the question is could Fernando be joined at Aston Martin by Carlos Sainz or be replaced by him? There are a lot of options right now.

Could Sebastian Vettel return to F1?

I think it is possible for a Vettel comeback but is unlikely. I think it’s possible because if he wanted to drive again and there was a team that wanted him, then clearly there is an option to do so. We are still under the current regulations, and he is familiar with this type of car so I think he could make a comeback and give it another go.

I think it is unlikely because there are too many options with current drivers at teams to fill their gaps. At the tail end of his career, particularly at Aston Martin, he appeared to have lost a little bit of the flair and speed that we had seen before. Sebastian seems like he is a guy who likes the thought of coming back but there are not many people who can do what Fernando Alonso did to take a sabbatical away from F1 and look really strong again. Sebastian would have to be incredibly motivated to want to do that and I don’t see anything in his interviews or body language that suggests that he is that desperate to do it. He is enjoying his time with his family and is doing plenty of other things to keep him occupied.

Betway Insider

Betway Insider

The Insider is an editorial blog for Betway, one of the best betting sites, featuring sporting insight, intelligent comment and informed betting tips for football betting and all other major sports.

Betway Insider

Betway Insider

The Insider is an editorial blog for Betway, one of the best betting sites, featuring sporting insight, intelligent comment and informed betting tips for football betting and all other major sports.