I'm not going to lie. Yesterday, I shed a few tears because Fernando Alonso said his final farewell to F1. It seems that after 17 years, Alonso got fed up with it. Even he said once that F1 is not entertaining anymore. I agree with him, and as someone who grew up watching him race, I’m really sad to see him go. I know that he will go to Indy 500, but Formula 1 just won’t be the same without him.
His F1 debut was in 2001 in Minardi, a small Italian team that wasn’t really doing well in F1. But still, the young Spaniard showed his skiLls and, in 2003, he went to Renault. When his sponsor Flavio Briatore became the head of this French team, he faced a lot of critics for choosing Alonso as one of his drivers. Later, people realized he made a great decision.
Alonso's Minardi. Credit: Minardi.it
At the Malaysian Grand Prix, Alonso became the youngest driver to get a pole position. Two races later, he finished 2nd at the Spanish Grand Prix and became the youngest F1 driver at the time to win a race at the Hungarian Grand Prix. This all proved that a star was born, and it was just a matter of time when Alonso would become a champion.
Young Alonso with his winning Renault. Credit: JadeFanSite.com
After 2004, which wasn’t the best year for him, Alonso and Renault put their heads together for the 2005 season and showed their full potential. With 7 victories that year, he became the youngest F1 champion at the time.
In 2006, he was fighting with Michael Schumacher for the championship, and with 7 victories again, the Spaniard won his 2nd championship. This was his best time of Formula 1. After all, how many drivers can say that they had a championship duel with the great Schumi?
At the end of 2006, Schumacher retired from Ferrari, and the public believed that the young Nando was the only one capable to reach Schumi’s records. For the next season, Alonso teamed up with McLaren with Lewis Hamilton as his teammate. Unfortunately, despite doing well in first few races, there was simply no chemistry between the two drivers and the team, and McLaren decided to terminate Alonso’s contract at the end of the 2007 season.
Alonso in his 2007 McLaren. Credit: Formula1.com
So, Fernando went back to Renault driving for them for two unsuccessful seasons of 2008 and 2009. After the years of the so called Crashgate saga was over, the Spaniard moved to Ferrari in 2010.
Very quickly, he became Tifosi’s favourite driver...and Scuderia Ferrari’s too. He didn’t win a championship with the Italian team, but he never gave up. In 2010, he came so close to get his 3rd championship. In the final race of the season, he started with 15 points ahead of Sebastian Vettel, but sadly, bad decision and bad luck stopped Nando to get his 3rd F1 title.
Bad luck kept coming back and, in 2012, he missed his opportunity for the title again. In 2015, he returned to McLaren, which proved to be his final stop on his F1 journey. This wasn’t his best time, since his cars were not really good. One race after another, the Spaniard was forced to be satisfied with not-so-good results. Despite all of that, he still remained a great driver and an amazing sportsman.
He didn’t leave F1 with a bad car and bad strategy. He left Formula 1 with 2 championships, 312 races, 97 podiums, 32 victories, 22 pole positions and 23 fastest laps.
Huge achievements of an amazing driver.