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With a combination of tactics, raw speed and tyre management being crucial under the 2012 Formula 1 regulations, Fernando Alonso is proving why he is the best driver in the field. That is the view of fellow racer and compatriot Jaime Alguersuari, who this season is watching from the sidelines and providing commentary for BBC Radio 5 live.
In 2011, when exhaust-blown diffusers were the crucial aspect of the championship, Ferrari failed to notch up a pole position and Alonso’s only win came at Silverstone – the single weekend on which diffuser technology was pegged back; he finished the year fourth overall. At present, to the surprise of many, he leads the drivers’ standings six races into the campaign.
“The drivers are more important this year,” Alguersuari explains in a column for BBC Sport. “When everything is so close, the drivers make the difference. That's why you see Fernando Alonso leading the championship.
“His car was 1.5 seconds a lap slower than the best in Australia and a second slower in Malaysia and China. It has never been on pole position and he is leading the championship after six races! He hasn't got the best car, but he has shown that at the moment he is the best driver out there.”
Furthermore, Alguersuari – who is currently the Pirelli test driver and is set to return to racing in 2013 - expected more from McLaren’s Jenson Button.
“I said before the start of the season that one of the drivers I thought would have the best chance was Jenson Button,” the Barcelona man continues. “Jenson is the type of driver you really want in a team because he deals with every situation in the most mature way. He knows how to cope with whatever the car is capable of on a given day.
“Jenson has not had a great run recently, but he remains one of the best drivers and I think this season is open enough for him to come back. The season has been very close so far this year. There are no technical secrets at the moment, as there were in recent years with the double diffuser, the f-duct or the exhaust-blown diffusers.”
To date, Alguersuari’s personal best F1 race result is seventh place, achieved for Toro Rosso in both the Italian and Korean Grands Prix of last year.
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