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The Five Best Drives of Fernando Alonso

Andrew Szekler writes about the excitement of Formula One racing.

Fernando Alonso is widely regarded as one of the best drivers who ever raced in Formula 1. The Spaniard rose like a meteor in the early and mid-2000s and became the youngest world champion of the sport in 2005( a record which was later beaten by Sebastian Vettel).

By the time he was not much older than 25, Alonso was already a double world champion, and some even predicted that he could go on to topple the records of the great Michael Schumacher. As we all know, things did not work out like that and some bad career choices meant that the 2006 title is up to even today the last of Alonso, but despite not winning another title, Alonso still put in some memorable performances that cemented his place among the greatest figures of the sport.

5. 2003 Hungarian GP

Alonso became the youngest Grand Prix winner in F1’s history in the 2003 Hungarian GP, and it was a drive worthy of the record too.

Alonso and his Renault team had a few good results already in 2003, but generally, Renault’s lacked the pace to take the fight to Williams, Ferrari and McLaren.

Despite this, Alonso surprised everyone by taking pole position. Though the Williams of Ralf Schumacher and Montoya were not far behind him, most expected Alonso to fall back somewhat during the race.

It did not work out like that at all. The Williams cars had horrid starts, and Ralf Schumacher even had a spin that dropped him to the back of the grid. It was Australian Mark Webber in his Jaguar who followed Alonso in the early stages of the race and held up the pack. Alonso built an over 15-second gap by the time the rest passed Webber in the pit stops, but even when the road was clear, the McLaren of Kimi Raikkonen was unable to make any headways on Alonso, who went on to win his first race by lapping his teammate Trulli and the legendary Michael Schumacher.

4. 2007 Italian GP

Rookie Lewis Hamilton surprised the whole paddock throughout the 2007 season by leading his more experienced double world champion teammate Alonso during the season.

Alonso was trailing Hamilton in the latter stages of the season after two difficult weekends in Hungary and Turkey, where bad starts and grid penalties meant that he failed to challenge Hamilton. Though a puncture for the Brit gifted Alonso third place in Turkey, in terms of performance, the Spaniard was disappointing.

If anyone expected the pattern to continue in Italy, they were to be disappointed. Despite a heavier car, Alonso out-qualified his teammate at Monza with only a single attempt to Hamilton’s two.

Hamilton was unable to match Alonso through the race too, where despite running heavier than his teammate all through the first two stints, Alonso left Hamilton in the dust and won the race rather comfortably.

3. 2014 Hungarian GP

2014 was Alonso’s last season at Ferrari, and in terms of results, it was his worst, as Alonso only managed to finish 6th in the standings, with a rather underwhelming points tally.

However, in terms of driver performance, Alonso was as sharp and consistent as ever. His first Ferrari teammate Felipe Massa was replaced by Kimi Raikkonen, but those who expected Raikkonen to match Alonso were in for a shock. Alonso demolish his Finnish teammate throughout 2014 and showed once again to the paddock that he was perhaps the greatest driver in the whole field.

One performance that perfectly showcased Alonso’s brilliance was his second-place finish in Hungary.

Alonso’s Ferrari in normal conditions was not better than the fourth-best car in the field after Mercedes, Red Bull and Williams. In qualifying, it looked very much that way also, as in stable dry conditions, Alonso had no hope of beating these cars.

The race, however, was not in stable dry conditions, but started as wet and dried up slowly during the 70 lap race. Using his skill in the wet and tricky conditions Alonso went on to take over the lead and was leading the race until the 67th lap when Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo passed the Ferrari man on his fresher tyres to snatch the win.

Despite in the end not winning the race, Alonso once again demonstrated to everyone just how brilliant he was behind the wheel of an F1 car.

Quiz

For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. Alonso scored more than twice as many points in 2014 than his teammate Raikkonen.
    • False
    • True

Answer Key

  1. True

2. 2006 Bahrain GP

The 2006 season was one of my favourite ones, to be honest, it was a true fight of the titans when the rising star Fernando Alonso and the legendary Michael Schumacher fought until the last moments of the season for the title.

The season opener was already signalling the pattern of the season. After a very poor 2005 season, Ferrari was back in business and locked out the front row at the season’s opening race in Bahrain.

2005 world champion Alonso only managed fourth, but Renault was quietly confident before the race.

Alonso got the traditionally good Renault start and passed third-placed man Button at the start. Not much into the first lap Alonso also got by Schumacher’s new Ferrari teammate Felipe Massa. By the end of lap 1, Alonso was already second to Schumacher, but the seven-time champion pulled away from him during the first stint. Things switched around after the first pitstops when Alonso closed back the gap.

Alonso stayed out a bit longer than Schumacher during the second stint and emerged just ahead of his rival after his stop. Schumacher remained at the tail of Alonso for the rest of the race but he was unable to pass or force an error from the Renault man, who opened the new season in style by edging Michael Schumacher.

Podium of the 2006 Bahrain GP, after an epic fight for the win

Podium of the 2006 Bahrain GP, after an epic fight for the win

1. 2012 European GP

2012 was probably Alonso’s best season at Ferrari. Despite not having a car that was as fast as Sebastian Vettel’s Red Bull, Alonso fought for the championship until the very last race of the season.

The tricky Pirelli tyres made the season very unpredictable, but on the balance of things, it was generally the McLaren and Red Bull who were the fastest, with Lotus being able to challenge them in very hot conditions, and Ferrari was generally quite a bit slower than them in the dry, but very competitive in wet conditions.

The 2012 European GP was held in Valencia, in June, and the conditions were bone dry in the scorching Spanish summer. Ferrari struggled in the qualifying session, and Alonso only managed 11th place in the end.

The Ferrari was working much better in race conditions, and Alonso was sizing his way through the field. He was already 4th and catching 3rd place man Lewis Hamilton when an SC was deployed. A slow McLaren pitstop allowed Alonso to get ahead of Hamilton too, so by the time of the restart, the order was: Vettel, Grosjean, Alonso and Hamilton.

Once the race was restarted, Alonso pulled a superb move on Grosjean and passed the Lotus man for a second. Not much later, the Red Bull of Sebastian Vettel stopped, and Alonso took the lead. From this moment on, the double world champion never looked back, and despite receiving pressure from Grosjean, he never made a mistake and took a memorable home win before the Spanish crowd.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2022 Andrew Szekler