Fernando Alonso is currently competing in his 19th Formula 1 season. The Spanish driver is a two-time Formula 1 World Champion and is also a two-time winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, as well as a champion of the FIA World Endurance Championship with Toyota, alongside Sébastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima.
Fernando Alonso Career
Alonso made his Formula 1 debut in 2001 with Minardi. Then, he spent the 2002 Formula 1 season as a test driver for Renault, before making his debut for the French team in 2003. He finished sixth in the 2003 World Drivers’ Championship and recorded the first win of his career, at the 2003 Hungarian Grand Prix from Pole Position. He had already achieved his first Pole Position early in the year, at Malaysia, where he also recorded his first career podium. At the time, he was the youngest to record a Pole Position and to win a race in F1 history, although both records were broken since.
Alonso could not win a race in the 2004 F1 season, but finished fourth in the WDC with 59 points after recording a Pole Position and four podiums. Then, the Spaniard dominated the 2005 WDC with his Renault and won the title comfortably ahead of McLaren’s Kimi Raikkonen, who won the same amount of races (seven) but had several mechanical issues on races and even before that hindered his chances.
After becoming F1’s youngest ever champion (this record was broken by Lewis Hamilton in 2008 and by Sebastian Vettel in 2010), Alonso would repeat as World Champion in 2006, after a year-long battle with the legendary Michael Schumacher and the Scuderia Ferrari. He left Renault after winning 15 races in four years and joined McLaren-Mercedes for 2007.
Fernando Alonso and his history at McLaren
At McLaren, a rookie Lewis Hamilton was Alonso’s new teammate, and the team imploded as the internal rivalry grew, and McLaren’s SpyGate saga ended with Alonso leaving the team after one year, McLaren being fined $100 million by the FIA, while also being excluded from the 2007 World Constructors’ Championship. The issue had to do with alleged espionage made by McLaren, which gave the team confidential information about Ferrari’s Formula 1 car, its main contender for 2007.
Ultimately, Alonso finished the 2007 championship in third place, behind the champion, Kimi Raikkonen, and his teammate (who finished second due to having more second places than the Spanish driver). Alonso returned to Renault in 2008, and won a couple of races for the team before leaving for Ferrari in 2010. Those wins with Renault came at Singapore and Japan in 2008. The Singapore win is a controversial one, as the Renault team ordered Alonso’s teammate, Nelson Piquet Jr., to crash his car in order to produce a Safety Car period that was perfect for Alonso’s race-winning strategy. When the matter was discovered in 2009, Team Principal Flavio Briatore was banned indefinitely, and Renault’s then executive director of engineering, Pat Symmonds, was banned for five years.
In 2010, Alonso competed for Ferrari and won in his debut with the team, in the 2010 Bahrain Grand Prix. He mounted a title challenge late in the year and entered the final race leading the WDC. However, a bad outing in the finale, at Abu Dhabi, allowed Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel to win the race and his first Formula 1 championship.
As Vettel dominated the 2011 campaign, Alonso could only finish fourth in the 2011 F1 season, winning only one race, at Silverstone. In 2012, the Ferrari proved to be the most reliable car for most of the year, and Alonso led the World Drivers’ Championship for most of the year. However, as Red Bull regained form late in the season, Sebastian Vettel overtook Alonso in the standings and won his third Formula 1 championship in the final race of the year, the 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix.
Alonso was second again in 2013, but he finished 155 points behind Vettel, although the season had started well for the Ferrari driver, after winning two of the first five races, including his 32nd and most recent win at the 2013 Spanish Grand Prix. A rough year followed in 2014, as Alonso could not win a race for Ferrari and the team was often on the backfoot against other top rivals.
Ultimately, he finished sixth in the 2014 WDC and recorded just two podiums in the year. He left Ferrari and made a shocking return to McLaren in 2015, embarking on a new challenge and trying to take advantage from two historic brands that united their F life again, McLaren and Honda. However, the car wasn’t great and the Honda power unit wasn’t reliable at all, with Alonso ultimately finishing the season in 17th place with just two point-scoring efforts, and behind his teammate Jenson Button.
The story didn’t change much, as the two-time F1 champion finished 10th, 15th and 11th in the standings in the 2016, 12017 and 2018 seasons, respectively. He announced that the 2018 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix would be his final F1 race, although a return didn’t seem to be off the table at the time. F1 thanked Alonso for his career and McLaren made a special livery for the Spaniard, with the colors of Spain and Oviedo on the car for the final race. Moreover, Alonso wore a special helmet for that race which was a mix of his first-ever F1 helmet (from 2001) and his 2018 design, and included the races which he won throughout his career.
His return to Formula 1
After two seasons out of Formula 1, Alonso returned to the sport in 2021 with Renault (the team was renamed as Alpine for 2021) and he managed to return to the podium at the 2021 Qatar Grand Prix, behind Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen. He finished 10th in the 2021 standings with 81 points. As of the 2022 Formula 1 season, Alonso continues racing for Alpine, as the team and driver are looking to make ‘El Plan’ successfully and maybe see the Spanish racer returning to the top of the podium.
To this point, Alonso has competed in several motor racing series, including two starts in the Indianapolis 500 and driving in events of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, a series in which he won the 2019 24 Hours of Daytona in the DPi class.
Throughout his career, Alonso has sported a helmet painted with blue and yellow, the colors of the flag of Asturias, and also includes the Spanish flag on the sides. He changed his design in 2007 to match the colors of the McLaren car, but the colors of his design have remained similar throughout his career. He wore special designs on certain special occasions, such as various Monaco GPs or the 2013 Indian GP (where he celebrated his then record of most points scored in F1 history).
Moreover, he is wearing a helmet with several pink details in 2022, given his team’s partnership with the company BWT. A distinct characteristic of Alonso’s helmet designs are two arrows painted at the top of the designs, an idea he took from a toy car he owned as a kid.
His victories and podiums
Alonso has 32 wins, 98 podiums and 22 Pole Positions in his Formula 1 career, while also starting 336 races (second-most in F1 history). He’s driven for Minardi, Renault/Alpine, McLaren and Ferrari.