First things first. Alonso was the best driver in the 2012 season, closely ahead of Hamilton and Vettel. That’s also how I see them in general, with Alonso slightly ahead of Vettel, just a small tad ahead of Hamilton.
But now that the season is over, I must say that Alonso hasn’t been gracious during the season and at the end of it. It almost seems like he fears people will not think he is the best. And people, journalists and many fans alike, seem then to overesteem his powers into superpowers. But let’s put things into perspective.
Here are my theories:
1. Alonso said he always got the absolute maximum out of the car. This is simply not true, mostly in the very important qualifying sessions, where he insisted on that sentence quite a lot. Actually, his qualifying session yesterday was pretty poor all along. One also has to admit that Massa has been the slightly stronger driver in the last half dozen of races.
2. Alonso says that Grosjean took his title away. But he was lucky quite a lot, and if he had won the championship today, it would have been deserved, but extremely lucky on the day. He had a a pretty bad today in general and still finished in second, thanks to a great start and then other circumstances. Today, actually, Vettel was slighty better.
3. Alonso also diminished Vettel’s performances all the time. He doesn’t need that, saying that Adrian Newey was winning the title, and always repeating that Hamilton was his real opponent. It is true that Vettel has not yet reached Alonso’s level, but he’s getting there, and he might get there. It would do him well do acknowledge that.
4. Alonso was always saying that he reached the limit of the car, all the time. Sounds like Senna talking, but somehow it is easier to believe the brazilian than the spaniard. You shouldn’t say that about yourself over and over again. And for all of us who watched the races closely, Ferrari’s race pace was en par with the best cars, in almost all races; if that were not the case, he would not have had a chance to challenge for the title. He is not that much of a super-driver to pull that off. McLaren’s mistakes really helped him to be in contention, too. The myth of one man outdriving his car is a little too good to be true, to the extent Alonso wants to make us believe. And indeed, most journalists and fans believe it.
To sum it up: Alonso had a great season, no doubt. But it might not have been as superb as he makes it sound. And he doesn’t need to make it sound that way for himself, it’s just not very sportsmanlike from him.