14 December 2018 11:56
Fernando Has Walked Away from Formula 1
Fernando Alonso's career in Formula 1 has been the subject of much media attention. With highs, such as winning two World Championships, and lows including his first tenure at McLaren, there has always been a story. However, what remains true, is that he has always been an emotional and passionate personality in Formula 1, an outstanding driver, and always good for an entertaining radio message or two!
The man of many race suits' career is best told by looking at the teams he has driven for:
Minardi - After a test with Benneton, Fernando spent his first season with the Minardi team in 2001. Whilst the car was lacking, he put in notable performances, including a fifth place in Melbourne, catching the eyes of the grid.
Renault - Fernando spent the next five years with Renault, again, impressing from the start with a win in his first season. He spent the first three years building experience and tuning his skills, until 2005 and 2006 when he converted that practice into Championship winning seasons, beating rivals such as Michael Schumacher and Kimi Raikkonen. At the time, this made him the youngest ever Formula 1 World Champion.
McLaren - In 2007 Fernando joined McLaren, emulating his hero Ayrton Senna. From the go, Lewis Hamilton's immediate pace caused ructions, and the season quickly became a political inter-team battle. Most notably coming to a head in very public way, in Hungary, with Fernando deliberately blocking Hamilton, preventing him from doing his final qualifying lap. The ripple-out from this saga, was Fernando making public the behind-the-scenes "Spygate" espionage conspiracy that subsequently went on to see McLaren charged, fined, and excluded from the 2007 World Championship. This was not how it was meant to have gone and a deeply unhappy Fernando terminated his contract early. This was a tough year for him.
Renault - Without many options, Fernando found himself back with Renault for 2008 and 2009. In Singapore 2008, he took victory after his teammate Nelson Piquet Jr spun into a barrier, triggering a safety car, which later was confirmed as intentional. This resulted in Fernando losing his Manager and mentor, Flavio Briatore, who took responsibility for the incident. The following year, his best result was a third position in Singapore.
Ferrari - 2010 came and Fernando moved to Scuderia Ferrari. His five years at the team coincided with the rise of Red Bull Racing and saw him play runner-up in the Championship three times (each time to Sebastian Vettel). In 2014 the Italian press turned on Fernando and, with Honda returning to Formula 1, they enticed him back to McLaren, who were looking for a lead driver following the departure of Lewis Hamilton.
McLaren - 2015 was Fernando's return to McLaren, lured by Honda, a massive PR campaign around a return to the glory days, and a sense of unfinished business. Unfortunately, over the next four years (and even with a Renault engine in 2018) McLaren could not provide a car that could offer any level of consistent results, leaving the two-time Champion frustrated and lacking motivation to continue beyond 2018.
Fernando has never made a secret of his desire to win the Triple Crown of Motorsport. This unofficial award is the combination of winning the Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix, the Le Mans 24-Hours, and the Indianapolis 500, over the period of a career. Only one person has won this previously - the late, great Graham Hill.
McLaren Andretti - Already looking beyond Formula 1 and fixed on achieving the triple crown, Fernando and McLaren went into partnership with Team Andretti to enter Fernando into the Indianapolis 500 in 2017. From the first test, Fernando impressed within IndyCar. In his first attempt at oval racing, he took the lead on several occasions, only for his Honda engine to expire with 21 laps left to run.
Toyota - Fernando signed a deal with Toyota in 2018 to run in the 2018/2019 super-season, with the aim of winning the Le Mans 24-hour race. In Spa and Le Mans he took outright victory.
Fernando is already two crowns into this endeavour, with the Monaco Grand Prix and the Le Mans 24-Hours under his belt. In May 2019 McLaren and Fernando will enter a car into the Indianapolis 500, looking to improve on his 2017 effort. What happens once he achieves this final crown? Will he return to Formula 1? We certainly don't expect to see him slow down, and may set his sights on a fourth or fifth crown!