1996 Formula 1 World Champion Damon Hill believes that Fernando Alonso was “up to his old tricks” during qualifying in Baku last weekend.
Williams’ Alexander Albon accused the Spaniard of deliberately causing a yellow flag at the end of Q1, denying the Thai-British driver a chance to improve his lap time.
“This is ridiculous,” Albon said over the team radio. “He was doing it the whole lap.
“He was driving slowly on purpose and then it was so obvious, how he went off the track it was ridiculous. He braked so early and then he just went off the circuit.”
Alonso denied Albon’s claims, however Hill believes that the two-time World Champion was always in control of his car.
“I like him, he’s so cunning,” Hill told the F1 Nation podcast. “Alex Albon called him an incredibly smart guy because he was up to games in qualifying.
“He was definitely up to his old tricks but we can’t not have a sneaking admiration for the trickster.
“That guy who somehow can play everything to his own advantage and he does it with a little cheeky smile as well.
“And he performs, it’s not like he’s being a nuisance and not delivering, he’s delivering. He delivers for Alpine and I’d rather have him in [the team] than outside and doing the same to you.”
Alonso’s contract with Alpine expires at the end of the 2022 campaign, however he has hinted that he is keen to stay in Formula 1 beyond the current season.
Despite approaching 41 years of age, Hill commended Alonso for his performances since his return to the sport in 2021.
“Exhaustion doesn’t seem to have set in, does it? Or lack of enthusiasm. If you said to him now you’ve got one more crack at the front end, he would jump at it.
“He’d be there and he’d probably win. So the problem is for a top team, how long is he going to be there for?
“And how much carnage will there be once he starts to, which he tends to do, get involved in the running of the company and the politics of it?
“He definitely overstepped the mark when he was at McLaren in the first age [stint] and also in Ferrari.”