There will be many celebrations at the Hungaroring this weekend, where the 11th Grand Prix of a 2011 season that has finally started to heat up. Fernando Alonso turned 30 on Friday on the same track where he won his first race in 2003. The Hungarian Grand Prix will also be Alonso's 30th behind the wheel of a Ferrari.
Jaime Alguersuari made his debut here two years ago for Toro Rosso, while McLaren's Jensen Button will compete in his 200th Grand Prix, double the total Mercedes' Nico Rosberg will reach on Sunday. With two World Championship titles under his belt from his time at Renault, Alonso says there is little similarity between the youngster who debuted in Australia ten years ago and the driver he is today.
"I have to learn to live with Formula 1," says the Spaniard. "This sport requires total dedication, it is very physically and mentally demanding, and is half sport, half politics. When you arrive from karting or any other category you are taken aback at the level of politics, it surprises and bothers you, and you wish it was cleaner and more transparent. But you have to accept it in the same way that people have to understand that there are many interests in Formula 1."
After 10 years in the sport, Alonso concedes there are things he can still improve upon: "There is still a margin. In recent years I have grown a lot because I have had the luck to learn from many teammates and I have taken on board many things from them. Today I am better prepared to race on any circuit in any conditions and in any type of car."
Alonso stresses the competitiveness shown by McLaren at the Nürburgring, where Lewis Hamilton recorded his second victory of the season ahead of Sunday's race but still believes Red Bull has the most potent car. "We will see it was a matter of the very specific conditions, with low temperatures, that benefited Hamilton's driving. Racing in 12 or 13 degrees was good for them and I think that in this aspect they will also have luck here. In any case, Red Bull was first and third in qualifying in Germany and they remain the team to beat."