Fernando Alonso is a Spanish Formula One racer currently racing for Alpine. He is a 2-time Formula One World Champion, winning the titles in 2005 and 2006 with Renault. He’s driven for some of the biggest marquee names in the sport like Renault, Mclaren, and Ferrari and has also won the 24 Hours of Le Mans twice, in 2018 and 2019. Alonso took a sabbatical from Formula One in 2019 and will be making a return with Alpine in 2021.
Born in Oviedo, Asturias to a working-class family, he began go-karting at the age of three and achieved success in local, national, and world championships. Alonso progressed to car racing at the age of 17. He is the son of Jose Luis Alonso, a former amateur kart driver, and his wife the department store employee Ana Diaz.
Alonso began karting at a very young age of 3 and started competing at 5 years old. He would slowly move up the categories making his mark wherever he competed and would finally make a move to car racing at the age of 17 in the 1999 Euro Open by Nissan. He would win the title at the final race of the season from Manuel Giao and end the season with six wins and nine pole positions. In 2000, he progressed to the International Formula 3000 Championship with the Minardi-backed Team Astromega. Alonso would finish the season 4th in the standings.
Formula One Career
Formula One would come calling as Alonso would get an opportunity to drive for Minardi in his debut season. Impressing everyone with his pace in his very first season, Alonso was able to secure a test driver’s role at Renault for the 2002 season.
In 2002, Alonso would spend the majority of the year sitting on the sidelines as Jenson Button and Jarno Trulli were the designated drivers for the team. In 2003, Alonso would get his much-deserved promotion as he would drive alongside Jarno Trulli and replace Jenson Button. In his first year in a representative car, Alonso would impress with his pace and ability to extract the maximum out of the car. He would become the youngest driver to get a pole position as well as the youngest driver to win a race in Formula One. He finished the season 6th in the championship and announced himself to the world of Formula One.
In 2004, Alonso had an improved season with the team but because of Ferrari’s dominance in pace, he was unable to do much. He achieved pole at the French Grand Prix in 2004 but was unable to win the race. During the season he put together 3 more podiums on his way to fourth position in the championship.
In 2005, with the change in regulations, Renault transformed itself from being podium contenders to championship favorites. With a car capable of winning the title Alonso would clock seven victories, six pole positions, and fourteen podiums on his way to his first Formula One title that made him the youngest Formula One Champion eclipsing Emerson Fittipaldi. Alonso would become just the second world champion in the 21st century after Michael Schumacher with his triumph.
In 2006, Alonso would face a stiff challenge throughout the season from Michael Schumacher in his Ferrari but because of reliability issues hampering Schumacher’s charge at Suzuka in 2006, Alonso would be able to win the title at the last race of the season. At this stage of his career, Alonso was considered to be one of the best drivers on the grid and the heir apparent to Michael Schumacher’s throne. For the 2007 season, he would switch teams and move to Mclaren.
Alonso would move to Mclaren from Renault for the 2007 season and team up with young sensation Lewis Hamilton. Lewis Hamilton had been a Mclaren prodigy for a long time and had just dominated the GP2 series before stepping into Formula One. In a rather shocking turn of events, Hamilton would end up matching and beating Alonso for pace in his rookie season. That ruffled a lot of feathers at Mclaren as Alonso expected preferential treatment from the team but the team was willing to let the two drivers race. There were multiple flashpoints throughout the season including the massive blowout at Hungary where Alonso blocked Hamilton during qualifying. The season would unravel for both the team and the drivers involved as Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen would steal the title from right under the nose of both the Mclaren drivers. At the end of 2008, Alonso would go back to Renault and break all ties with Mclaren.
Alonso’s second stint at Renault was not as fulfilling as the first one, the car lacked power and aerodynamic efficiency to compete for the championship. Alonso would still salvage two wins in 2008, one of them thanks to his teammate intentionally crashing out of the race at Singapore GP. The scandal known as the crash gate was investigated in 2009 and Team Principal Flavio Briatore was banned from all Formula One events. The 2009 season was more of the same for Alonso as an uncompetitive Renault made it hard for Alonso to compete for anything meaningful throughout the season even though he was considered one of the best drivers on the grid.
For the 2010 season, Alonso got the opportunity to drive for Ferrari alongside Felipe Massa. In what was a childhood dream of emulating Michael Schumacher’s achievements with the Italian team, the Spaniard set out on his quest with a victory in his very first race at Bahrain Grand Prix 2010. Alonso would impress everyone up and down the grid with his consistency and despite not having the outright pace in his Ferrari he would stay in the title fight as the championship leader. It all would come down crumbling however as in the final race of the season, in a bid to cover up for Mark Webber, Ferrari would pit Alonso early and the Spaniard would get stuck behind Petrov for the rest of the race. This would give Sebastian Vettel, enough points difference to win the race and the championship with it. Despite losing the championship in the last race of the season, Alonso would resolve to come back stronger in 2011.
2011 was however a different story as Red Bull built a car that was considerably faster than the rest of the field. Sebastian Vettel would run away with the title and win with a few races to spare. Ferrari on their part would struggle as they would fall below Mclaren in the pecking order as Alonso would finish the season fourth in the standings.
In the 2012 season, Ferrari produced a car that was hard to handle, lacked balance, and was just not competitive. However, it was during this year that Alonso would produce one of the greatest seasons in the history of the sport. In an uncompetitive car, Alonso would put together multiple race wins and almost win the title in the last race of the season. Sebastian Vettel would yet again win another title as he now became the most successful driver on the grid and eclipsed Alonso.
It was more of the same in 2013 as Ferrari produced a competitive car but the Red Bull was on just another level and Sebastian Vettel would win another title making him a 4-time World Champion.
With the regulations changing in 2014, many expected Ferrari to get a jump on the proceedings with the introduction of V6 Turbos. Alonso was pinning his hopes of a turn around in his fortunes on Ferrari getting a headstart on the regulations. But as it turned out, Ferrari produced one of the least competitive cars in recent times as the engine lacked the power or the efficiency of the Mercedes engine and the car was not as aerodynamically efficient either. Ferrari had a poor season and the relationship between Ferrari and Alonso deteriorated. By the end of the 2014 season, Ferrari had replaced Alonso with Sebastian Vettel while Alonso found a home in the new Mclaren Honda project.
Alonso joined hands with Mclaren in the famed “Mclaren-Honda” partnership, Much was expected from the partnership because of Honda’s motorsports heritage as well as the success that the Mclaren-Honda partnership enjoyed in the 90s. However, at the start of the 2015 season, all the expectations went up in smoke as the Honda engine just didn’t have any performance, The engine lacked power, couldn’t run the entire race without breaking, and was just not on the levels of what a Formula One engine should be. The Mclaren Honda Partnership was a complete disaster as the engine would just not improve in the three years of the partnership and the aspirations of a title challenge were burnt to the ground. Mclaren as a team would also suffer as even the switch to Renault engines did not propel the team to the front of the grid. After 4 years of disappointment with Mclaren and a lack of availability of a competitive car, Alonso would take a sabbatical from the sport.
In the 2020 season, it was announced that Alonso would make a return to Formula One with Renault as a replacement for Daniel Ricciardo in the 2021 season.
- 2003 Autosport Gregor Grant Award
- Princess Cristina National Sports Award 2003
- Lorenzo Bandini Trophy 2005
- Prince of Asturias Award for Sports 2006
- Gold Medal of the Royal Order of Sports Merit 2005
- Autosport International Racing Driver of the Year 2006
- FIA Hall of Fame
Father: Jose Luis Alonso
Mother: Ana Diaz