Conduct a straw poll in the Formula 1 paddock, and Fernando Alonso’s name would quickly emerge as among the most respected and admired in the sport.
Yet, despite his brilliantly-wrought world championships in both 2005 and 2006, for Renault, further titles have narrowly eluded him ever since.
If anything, however, Alonso’s driving actually seems to have prospered from his apparent frustration.
At Renault, he used his alienation from and dissatisfaction with the rule-makers to blast to two world titles – the first achieved with peerless consistency against McLaren’s Kimi Raikkonen, the second through a relentless determination to break the back of the Ferrari winning machine, spearheaded by Michael Schumacher.
As the reigning world champion, he joined McLaren for 2007, but a change of tyre supplier and the arrival of young hotshot Lewis Hamilton unsettled him, causing him to miss the title by just a single point despite having won four grands prix in fine style. Frustrated, he rejoined Renault for 2008 and 2009, achieving a degree of success but no world championships.
Joining Ferrari in 2010, he burnished his reputation as arguably Formula 1’s greatest driver. And, despite being saddled with less-than-competitive machinery, he still set himself up with realistic shots at the world title in both 2010 and ’12 – narrowly missing out in the final race on both occasions.
Since 2015, Fernando has been racing at McLaren to spearhead the reuniting of the McLaren Honda partnership.
When the history books are written, Alonso’s name will be writ large as one of the sport’s all-time greats.
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- Born 29 July, 1981, Oviedo, Asturias, Spain
- Grands Prix 287
- Wins 32
- McLaren Career Span 2007, 2015 - current day