Few things are as drool-worthy in Formula 1 as Fernando Alonso’s racing prowess and the power of his stats in the sports command, notes F1 journalist Dev Tyagi.
Esteban Ocon, the present and future of Alpine racing, was merely five when his teammate, a man by the name of Fernando Alonso, debuted in Formula 1.
The year was 2001. The oldest man on the 2022 grid had arrived as a nineteen-year-old. Make no mistake; the Spaniard wasn’t fully out of his teens yet.
But the Minardi driver, who qualified nineteenth at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, finished twelfth in the end.
In so doing, the Oviedo-born, despite his utter inexperience at that level, finished ahead of names like Button, Fisichella, Montoya, Trulli and Hakkinen.
A few hours ago, the then-teenager finished fifth at Spa Francorchamps, nestled amid the serene Ardennes setting of Belgium.
His much younger but highly capable teammate finished seventh, beginning from the backend.
Few things are as drool worthy in Formula 1 as Fernando Alonso’s grit and the awe-inspiring numbers.
32 race wins. 23 fastest laps. 22 poles. All of these have culminated in two world titles, which, well and truly speaking, came during the reign of Michael Schumacher.
It’s a matter of two podiums for the man from Asturias to hit a century in the highest echelons of Grand Prix racing F1.
Here he is. Fast as ever. Much like a hurricane. Bold and brave like a gladiator on some mission whose ultimate aim is carnage for the opponent. And even after two decades in motorsport’s top flight and 347 Grands Prix starts later, Fernando Alonso isn’t done yet.
At times, for instance, the qualifying at Canada, where Alonso secured a P2, it seems that he’s just beginning. And by that count, much like his former Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen, you are compelled to think that he’s the Keanu Reeves of F1 racing in that he hardly seems to age.
The stubble, coupled with the sassy glasses worn with cool weather and a distinct smirk that often makes way for a grin suggests “El Nino” is here to stay.
His has been a career of heartbreaks and heart-achingly beautiful drives. There are the 2012 and 2013 losses suffered at the hands of Red Bull.
Alonso finished second overall, next best only to Vettel. But the Spanish Knight, as some among the Tifosi call him, wasn’t defeated in spirit.
During his time at Ferrari, Fernando Alonso birthed legends like the 2013 Spanish GP win; the Catalunya victory came from fifth on the grid. The Grand Prix was hair-raising, given Alonso’s speed and tenacity.
Alonso even secured a victory upon his arrival at Ferrari by winning the 2010 Bahrain race.
One of the most underrated feats about Fernando Alonso is that in his maiden year with the Scuderia, he claimed second in the end, scoring 252 points. Firm evidence that the Italian stable had placed the right bet on the one that would tame the “Prancing Horse!”
Though, in the end, despite half a decade with Italy, the Spaniard couldn’t do it.
Yet, the Alonso legend was etched in bold and passionate colours of red, for he’d given it absolutely everything, including sweat and tears, to bring glory to Maranello.
Few have been as committed to the cause as the giant of Grand Prix racing; if need be, he’d have shed blood, or so it seemed to the untrained mind.
What we see Max doing today as the Dutchman pushes hard, often going for the kill, holding back little, Alonso was doing it all a decade back in the day.
Not that an awful lot has changed.
In 2021 at Qatar, which happened to be F1’s maiden appearance at the MotoGP destination, Alonso found a way to score a podium. He was ahead of Ocon not only in qualifying but in the approach to tackle a spine-bending and imperiously fast circuit.
A P3, in the end, was the result of an effort as arduous as going rock climbing minus the right footwear.
Alonso even smashed Kimi to the smithereens during the pair’s time at Ferrari. In 2014, while the Iceman managed no more than 55 points, Alonso’s tally appeared akin to a mountain: 161 points.
While Kimi struggled with the Ferrari F14T, perhaps just the way Ricciardo is in getting the best out of the McLaren today (when compared to Lando), Alonso fought on and bagged podiums in China and Hungary.
He was Ferrari’s knight and his form, despite the insipid car, was the call of duty.
And it’s this dutiful devotion to racing and pushing that extra bit hard that makes the former McLaren and Renault driver what he is.
A driver few can cast a blind eye on for his achievements are as staggering as his determination to succeed aged 41. A hero that may just never get that near-perfect car with which he can tell them all that there’s more to him than the Renault titles.
He’s Fernando Alonso Diaz. A man few can ever be. An icon who’s not done yet. Bring on the remainder of the races and the 2023 stint with Aston Martin.
(By Dev Tyagi)