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Fernando Alonso

Fernando AlonsoFull name: Fernando Alonso Díaz
Date of Birth: 29/07/1981
Place of Birth: Oviedo, Spain

First race: 2001 Australian GP
Previous teams: Minardi, Renault and Mclaren
Current team: Scuderia Ferrari
Current car number: 8

World Championships: 2 (2005, 2006)
Wins: 21
Podiums: 53
Career Points: 577
Pole Positions: 18
Fastest laps: 13

The beginning

Alonso cultivated his talent in karts but that was not the family’s plan. His father built up a kart but it was intended for his older sister but she showed little interest in speed and racing and so at the age of three Fernando was given the kart.

His father began to believe in Fernando’s abilities and helped tour Spain (working as mechanic to the kart) for competitions. Multiple championships were won in the years 1993-96, including the Junior World Cup and he finished second in the European championship.

It would be Campos who would first test Alonso in single-seaters. He would compete and win the championship for Campos in the 1999 Spanish Euro Open MoviStar by Nissan.

The step up to F1

These early successes earned Fernando a test with the Formula One team Minardi. He would come out on top of the time sheets by 1.5 seconds. However, his lack of experience meant that although he had caught peoples’ attention it was still too soon for him to race in the prestigious series.

So he moved up to Formula 3000 and got the mileage needed and ended the season 4th in his rookie year. This was enough and in 2001 he would race for Minardi and become  one of the youngest drivers ever to start in F1.

Minardi

Minardi was at its usual form- slow and unreliable (he suffered nine retirements that season) but at least it was a seat for the Spaniard. He did see some success; in his first race he would out-qualify his teammate Marques. He wouldn’t score a point that season – the Minardi wasn’t up to the task – but his strong and consistent performances meant that his manager Flavio Briatore was willing to put Alonso in his own team (Benetton/Renault) as a test driver for the  2002 season.

Renault

Alonso would have a quiet year as a test driver in 2002 but it would serve him well when the opportunity to race came in 03 when Briatore dropped Button.

2003 was generally a good year; four podiums and he became the youngest race winner at the Hungarian Grand Prix. But there was a rookie error when he crashed heavily at Brazil when yellow flags were out.

He would score 4 more points in 2004 (59 points and ended the season 4th), there were plenty of podiums but no win.

The championship years

Alonso would finish the 2005 season with his maiden F1 championship title and take seven wins from the season.

The season opener was perhaps a painful one: due to qualifying problems he started near the back and while he fought well to 3rd it would be his teammate Fisichella who would take the team’s first win of the season. He reacted well to the challenge scoring 3 wins in a row (and keeping Schumacher at bay in style at Imola).

However although the Renault was a quick car the McLaren had astonishing speed but was unreliable. Raikkonen was beginning to put up a fight for the title and Alonso needed to keep his head to rack up the points.  The Mclaren’s trouble finishing granted the Renault driver wins at Germany and Europe. His consistent performances meant that by Brazil he only needed a spot on the podium to win the title and he duly obliged and became the youngest F1 World Champion ever and put an end to Schumacher’s five year domination of the sport.

In Japan he proved a worthy champion fighting up to 3rd and passing Schumacher in a stunning move around 130R, and in China he helped Renault take their first Constructor’s title by winning.

In 2006 Renault would face different opposition, this time from Ferrari and Schumacher.

Alonso would win the season opener and kicked off his big to retain the title. He would win at Australia but at San Marino Schumacher refused to give Alonso an inch and he could only claim 2nd.  Four consecutive wins would give Fernando room to breathe but the championship was far from over.

His title campaign would suffer blows when he could only managed 5th in the USA and Germany when Michael was back on top but once more Alonso was showing himself to be a consistent driver and get the points.

In the most controversial moment of the year, at the Italian Grand Prix, Alonso was put in 10th position on the starting grid for impeding Felipe Massa. There was quite a gap between the two but the punishment was enforced and it led to Fernando to claim he no longer considered F1 a sport. He would show his determination and talent by fighting up to 3rd in the race, perhaps driving with the fury the stewards had gave him but an engine failure cost him dear and soon he would lead the championship by only 2 points.

There would be a tie on points when Schumacher would lead the Spaniard home in the Chinese Grand Prix. His title chances appeared to be slipping away but when he won at Japan and Michael retired, due to a uncommon engine failure, his hope was renewed.

A storming drive to 4th for Schumacher couldn’t give him the title at Brazil and when Fernando finished 2nd the title was his once again. Renault would win the top the Constructor’s board for the second time.

Alonso may have won two titles with Renault but his childhood dream was to race for Mclaren. Rumours began to swell and in 2005 shortly after winning his first title, Alonso announced he would race for the British team in 2007. It was suggested that Alonso had first approached team boss Ron Dennis on the podium in 2005 after just claiming the title.

The Mclaren year

Alonso's spell at McLaren was a short one

Alonso's spell at McLaren was a short one

Fernando Alonso would replace outgoing Kimi Raikkonen (who was taking Schumacher’s empty seat at Ferrari) and partner rookie Lewis Hamilton.

There were some eyebrows raised when, caught in a fight with Nick Heidfeld at the start, Hamilton was able to get the jump on Fernando at the first corner of the Australian Grand Prix, but Alonso fought back hard and ended ahead of his teammate in 2nd .

Alonso won win his first race for Mclaren at the second race of the season in Sepang. Lewis would finish ahead of him for the first time at Bahrain with a second place while Fernando was down in 5th. However, Alonso dominated Monaco starting from pole, setting the fastest lap and winning. He also lapped all but Massa and Hamilton. But grumblings in the team were beginning to start when Lewis appeared unhappy when he was called to pit earlier and sacrificing him any chance of the win.

At a chaotic race for the European Grand Prix Alonso would experience his third win of the season. Fernando was left unhappy with contact with Felipe Massa after overtaking him (who had led until he suffered tyre vibrations) and Felipe reacted angrily to any suggestion that it was on purpose. The pair argued briefly.

At Hungary the Mclaren team appeared to implode. Hamilton was asked to allow Fernando through in qualifying, the instruction was ignored and so an angry Fernando held his teammate up in the pits resulting in Lewis missing his final run. It was reported that the two Mclaren drivers were not on speaking terms.

Alonso would take his final win of the season at Monza and would eventually lose the championship by a single point to Kimi Raikkonen and tie on points with teammate Lewis Hamilton.

Alonso would also find himself caught up in the notorious ‘Spygate’ scandal, when it was revealed that Mclaren had used a mole to pass on Ferrari’s documents to develop their own car and new evidence had came to light. The evidence included e-mails from Fernando to Mclaren test driver Pedro de la Rosa and Alonso’s reputation took a hit.

At the end of the season Mclaren freed Alonso from his contract and so he went back to Renault.

Renault 2008-09

During his time at Mclaren, Renault had completely dropped off the pace. Any chance of securing another title seemed slim but Fernando made the best of a bad situation. However, speculation surrounded Fernando and if he would move to Ferrari but with both Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen locked in contracts it seemed Fernando would have to be patient.

Alonso would qualify 4th at Canada and there was a chance of his first podium but he ended up stuck behind a heavy fuelled Heidfeld and would eventually crash out.

At Spa he dropped to 8th but in an inspired moment switched to wet tyres on the final lap and managed to claim P4.

His first win of the season would come at the inaugural Singapore Grand Prix and the first night race. Qualifying problems hurt his chances of the win but when Alonso pitted early and moved to a one-stop it paid off when teammate Nelson Piquet Jnr. crashed and the rest of the field was forced to pit. Alonso put the lap times in required and would give Renault a much needed morale boost with the win.

It would later emerge that Nelson Piquet Jnr. had crashed deliberately to bring out the safety car to benefit Alonso’s new strategy. The FIA declared that Alonso had no knowledge of the plan and that it was solely Briatore, Piquet and Symonds responsible and that Fernando would keep the win.

At Japan, Alonso was able to capitalise on the Mclaren’s and Ferrari’s problems and would score his final – and legitimate – win of the season.

The championship showdown was between his former teammate Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa. Fernando declared he backed Massa for the title.

In Brazil he would score a podium in the last race of the season while his ex-teammate Lewis Hamilton took the title.

Renault appeared to have an even worse car in 2009. For most of the season it was midfield at best but Fernando managed a fastest lap at Germany and pole position in Hungary albeit the car was fuelled light. He managed to lead the race but when he pitted a tyre was not fitted correctly and the wheel would eventually fall off and Fernando couldn’t finish the race, let alone win.

At Singapore, after the ‘Crashgate’ hearing (where Renault would lose Symonds and boss Briatore) and a year since the incident, Fernando would help his suffering team by earning a podium in a very tough race. It was to be his only podium of the season.

Ferrari

It was announced in 2009 that next season Fernando Alonso will replace Kimi Raikkonen at Ferrari with his teammate being Felipe Massa. The contract is for at least three years. Many regard Fernando as the best driver on the grid right now but Felipe should push him hard. If Ferrari gets the car right then Fernando should be a favourite to take the 2010 title.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Simon permalink
    December 29, 2011 1:33 am

    He was my favourite for 2010, but luck cannot be with you every year. 2011 was simply: “Let’s get to 2012 as soon as possible” after the Red Bull blitzed all. I hope there is a turn-around for all of the competitive teams, as Mclaren only had a chance of getting near if RBR suffered with some difficulties.
    Fernando did the right thing signing until 2016.

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