Fernando Alonso thinks it unfair that Formula 1's top drivers have faced a barrage of criticism for their mistakes this year, because he thinks the intense competition of the season is the real reason why errors are more common.
The Spaniard has been under the spotlight at times this year, such as for his jump-start in China and crash in Monaco practice, while rivals Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton have also made high-profile blunders in races. Despite the number of incidents, Alonso thinks it is not right that the drivers have been criticized because he believes the ultra-close nature of the title battle is putting drivers more on edge than before.
"I think when you have a car that is better than all the rest, your approach or the way you do races is very different," said Alonso. "In terms of driving style, in terms of starts, aggressiveness, the team itself prefers to race much calmer. You don't need to push in terms of performance, so when you have tough competition, everything is on the limit and you risk much more – the team, the drivers, the engineers, everyone.
"So I think it is unfair to say that this year there were more errors for anyone. But it is true that they are more visible as well, because there are six drivers with the possibility to win races. If anything happens to any of these six, it is on the first page on the day after. In the past it was only two fighting for the title, so if the fourth or the fifth guy made a mistake it was not a big thing. This year it is."
Sebastian Vettel has also backed up Alonso's claims that the tight nature of the season is making the margins between success and failure much smaller. Speaking about his own crash in Belgium, and Hamilton's error at Monza, Vettel said: "Obviously, things like that give you a wonderful opportunity to hammer onto a driver. In the last race it was Lewis, in the race before myself.
"You can say that this was a mistake or so on, but if the suspension would not have broken down then nothing would have happened and no one would have talked about it. In that case, it did break down and it all went wrong for him, so of course it looked not very nice after the race. But it is a very tight call from the inside of the car. In the end I think it depends who you are, and your driving style. Some drivers try, others don't. Surely you need to see the risk. Is it possible? Is it not? If it is not possible then you don't try, but sometimes you think it is possible, you try and it doesn't work.
"I can give you my example in Spa. I don't think there was terribly much I did wrong, it just ended up the wrong way. We are all human. We all do mistakes. If we do them on a Friday nobody cares, and if we do them on a Saturday people care a little bit more. If we do them on Sunday then, depending where and when, it is a big thing.
"That is correct, because the race is the time we need to deliver, but we are all human, we all do mistakes – and in the end the quality of the driver is down to his speed and consistency and the amount of calls he makes right."