Fernando Alonso believes reaching 300 starts in Formula 1 will be much easier for today’s drivers to achieve in the future.This weekend in Malaysia Alonso’s McLaren team-mate Jenson Button will become only the third driver in F1 history to start 300 grands prix, joining Rubens Barrichello (322) and Michael Schumacher (306).
Double world champion Alonso will join the trio should he go on to extend his own career into 2018 as he currently stands fourth on the all-time list of race starts with 266.
Alonso feels for the young drivers in F1 now, there is more opportunity for them to go on to race in 200 or 300 races in their careers.
Do F1 drivers’ careers go on too long?
“Not many drivers arrive to 200, 300, and that’s because in the past it was not normal to start at a very young age,” said Alonso, whose own career began at the age of 19.
“In the future many drivers will arrive at 200, 300 because the new generation start in the low 20s, or high teens, or like [Max] Verstappen at 17.
“Now, to arrive at 200, 300, it’s a lot of races, which doesn’t scare me, but you realise you’ve been here for many years.”
BUTTON’S SPECIAL ACHIEVEMENT
Praising Button’s landmark, Alonso added: “It’s a big achievement.
“When you reach 300 it means a few things, that you are very talented and you delivered good results for many years, and the teams gave you the trust to keep on racing.
“It means you keep doing a lot of good things, you keep committed, you keep physically 100%, you keep racing at your best.
“It’s what Jenson has done, and I’m happy for him.
“It’s a special weekend, we all know that, so anything we can do to make this weekend a little bit more exciting and happy for him then we will try to do it.”
Button never believed he be in F1 long enough to reach the landmark.
He said: “I remember when Rubens [Barrichello] got to 300, – it was unbelievable.
“I was like, ‘I’m never going to race for that long’.
What should Button do in 2017?
“I remember when I started in 2000 speaking to my dad and he said ‘How long do you think you’re going to race for?’ and I said ‘I’ll be done by the time I’m 30 years old’.
“And here I am at 36 and this weekend I’m starting my 300th grand prix.
“It definitely sucks you in, Formula 1. It doesn’t let go for a long time, as long as you are performing.
“So it’s been a great ride to 300. Lots of ups and downs, as every career will have.”