Mindset of a Champion

Alonso - a winning obsession

While Max Verstappen and Oracle Red Bull Racing continue on a trajectory which will secure both the 2023  Formula 1 World Championship for Drivers and Constructors in the coming weeks, one competitor who has really shone this season is Fernando Alonso.

Renowned for his fiercely competitive mindset, the 42 year old Spanish star has scored no fewer than seven podium finishes for the Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant team this season.  The most recent came on Sunday when he scored his third second-placed finish of the year at the Dutch Grand Prix.

Alonso lies 3rd behind Red Bull’s Verstappen and Sergio Perez in the Drivers’ standings and has scored 168 of the 215 points which have enabled Aston Martin to rise into third place in the teams’ series ahead of Ferrari.

He recently gave a fascinating interview to the High Performance Podcast, hosted by Jake Humphrey and Damien Hughes, in which he gave some very personal insights into his quest for perfection.  This included a formative experience while racing karts, one which helped shape an uncompromising approach to the sport.

“I remember when I was in go-karts, I was 13 or something like that, and I finished 2nd in the World Championship the first year that I attempted it.  I was so happy.  It was my second international race, in the podium in the World Championship, it was just incredible.”

“I arrived to the team and I saw that I was the only one happy.  The head of mechanics in my team came to me, pulled me to one side in the tent and said, ‘Be happy, enjoy, but there is not much to celebrate.  Second is the first of the losers.  In sport you win or you don’t.  To finish second, seventh or 11th is the same.  There is only one guy with the trophy and it’s not us.  So, I understand your emotion but this is nothing to celebrate.’”

“It was shocking because I was 13, and I thought that was really bad, for a kid, but then with time I understood that was good advice in general.  Especially in sport, when you are competing for something, you win or your don’t.  It’s not that you train, or are here at the simulator or working at the races to finish seventh.  Seventh is the same as 17th, there is only one guy winning.”

You can see that same mentality in the very few teams, leaders and drivers for whom winning is the only thing that matters.  While Alonso knows that finishing second in a Grand Prix for Aston Martin is a great result in relative terms, winning remains the primary objective. It’s the same mindset reflected in the faces of Lewis Hamilton or team boss Toto Wolff, unhappy with Mercedes’ current struggles.

When the top performers are not winning today, they are obsessed with how to win tomorrow.  Toppling a dominant rival only increases their motivation.

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