Fernando Alonso's racecraft on his F1 return this year has been declared as "mind-blowing" while his professionalism has drawn comparisons to Michael Schumacher.
That is the verdict of Alpine executive director Marcin Budkowski who has savoured working with the two-time champion over the past few months after the Spaniard ended a two-year hiatus away from the sport.
To many observers, Alonso is driving better now than at any time during his career, including his title-winning years of 2004 and 2005.
Initially asked as to how long he felt Alonso could continue in F1, in a small group interview session that included GPFans Global, Budkowski said: "Certainly, he doesn't feel like an old man ready to retire.
"He's hungry. He's looking forward to next year. Every time he's in the factory, he's asking how next year's car is coming.
"We see he's enjoying himself very much this year, you've seen it on the racetrack, but even outside of the track, in interactions with the team, you can see that he's enjoying it. He is happy to be back in Formula 1.
"But obviously, his ambitions, like our ambition, is to do better than what we're doing now. That's what we're working hard on for next year, and he's excited about that.
"If we give him a competitive car next year, I don't think he's going to go anywhere anytime soon, because he's going to want more and more of it."
Alonso similar to Schumacher in many areas
Declaring himself "impressed" with what he has seen so far from Alonso, Budkowski can see Schumacher in the 40-year-old after working with the seven-time champion during his time at Ferrari from 2002 to 2007.
"I'll be honest with you, I've worked with a number of drivers through, a bit more than 20 years in F1, and he is extremely impressive," added Budkowski.
"He is impressive in his approach, which is very, very professional, reminding me a bit of Michael to be honest when I was at Ferrari, and he was a benchmark in terms of how professional he was and how meticulous he was in his approach.
"I see that similar trait in Fernando. I'd never worked with him but I'd I heard that from many people who worked with him.
"Obviously, it's not the same when you hear it from someone else, but then when you're sat in that in the briefing room with him and you see the work he puts in with his engineers."
Alonso ability unrivalled by many in F1
On track, after a difficult start to the campaign as he slowly adjusted to life back in F1, Alonso has since produced a string of fine drives in qualifying and grands prix.
Among the highlights for Budkowski was Alonso's performance in the sprint race ahead of the British Grand Prix in which he finished seventh after initially qualifying 11th.
"The other thing that blows me away is his racecraft," said Budkowski. "We saw it in the sprint race, we saw it in Baku, great opportunities to see that.
"What Fernando did at Silverstone, by effectually forming a DRS train behind him because he wasn't afraid of [Lance] Stroll, but he was afraid of [Pierre] Gasly.
"Therefore he annihilated any possible attack from Gasly by putting him in Stroll's DRS. For me, it is mind-blowing almost.
"We're sat on the pit wall, we have all the data, we have full visibility on the race, and he's in a car driving at full speed.
"He has almost the same analysis of the race that we have in our pit wall with nowhere near as much data and an ability to take a step back if you want.
"That's the thing that impresses me the most with Fernando, and that's 20 years of experience in driving Formula 1 cars.
"There are not many drivers, even with 20 years experience, would be capable of that."
What do you think?
He's a dirty driver. Always crowding others off the track. Did it to Schumacher. Didn't like it when Massa returned the favour.
Look when he did it to Vettel at Monza. Then the following year when Vettel gave him a taste of his own food it was Vettel who got punished! Why does Alonso get away with this?
And most recently with Lewis. You could see him moving to push Lewis off the track any time he tried to overtake around the outside. Lewis knew the cost of a DNF is too much for his title ambitions so had no choice but to wait for Alonso to make a mistake.
He's an above average driver with more than a little chip on his shoulder from 2007.
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