Fernando Alonso believes Formula One's growing popularity has led to a dwindling appreciation of drivers from past eras, claiming many new fans "don't know much" about the sport.

Having raced in other categories at the Dakar Rally and the Indianapolis 500, the two-time F1 champion made a stellar return to the series in 2021, after relinquishing his seat with McLaren at the end of the 2018 season.

The 40-year-old has showed no signs of slowing down in literal and figurative terms, currently sitting 10th in the drivers' standings in a middling Alpine and matching team-mate Esteban Ocon for pace.

Alonso believes that despite his own quality as a racer, he and other drivers have faced negative consequences from F1's Netflix-fuelled influx of new fans.

"I think the perception from the outside or the feeling towards me, has changed, from time to time," he told The Race. "And in 2007 [the year after his second F1 title], maybe people had a perception of what I was as a driver or as a person."

He suggested that changed when he had a five-season spell at Ferrari from 2010 to 2014.

"Now I think that the fans that we have now, there are new fans and in a way – and I don't want to lack respect to them – but they don't know much about Formula 1," said Alonso.

"They just are more like a football kind of fan, where they just follow the results, whoever is winning does the best. And whoever is last is not Formula 1 level.

"They don't understand much about car performance and the package that you need. So you are on more of a rollercoaster kind of feeling, of perception, of what the people feel about you."

Alonso has been unfortunate not to pick up a bigger haul of points in recent outings, with a double stop in Austria arguably costing him a second straight top-five finish.

He did, however, concede his front-row position in the wet in Canada was significant in the context of his return and changing minds.

"It meant a lot because when you decide to come back, you need to put away a few things in life – family, friends again – and have full dedication for the job you do, travelling, the physical aspect, the mental aspect, everything and the pressure that you feel in your shoulders," he said.

"Because you are Fernando Alonso, and everyone will look at you if you are doing well."