After a two-year break from Formula One, two-time World Champion Fernando Alonso is back and will drive for Alpine in 2021. It’ll be the start of a third stint with the Enstone-based team.
Keeping busy and success away from F1
After completing the 2018 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and heading off for what turned out to be a break from the sport, the 39-year-old has been staying active and sharp across many forms of racing.
- With his teammates, Alonso took two consecutive victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans with Toyota; he also won the 2018-2019 FIA World Endurance Championship driving for the Japanese brand
- Victory at the 24 Hours of Daytona in 2019 with Wayne Taylor Racing
- Fails to qualify for the Indy500 in 2019 in difficult machinery; qualifies and finishes 21st last year
- Competes in his first Dakar rally last year and is classified 13th in the cars section
What should we expect from Alonso in his comeback campaign?
If you are new to watch Formula 1, you might not know much about the incredible ability that the Spaniard possess.
In his previous 17 seasons in the sport, the two-time World Champion has only been beaten twice in the championship: 2007 against Lewis Hamilton (they tied on 109 points apiece but the Brit scored more 2nd places) and Jenson Button in 2015 when the dreadful reliability of Honda meant it was pot luck who would finish in front. He was also a point behind Jarno Trulli in 2004 when the Renault driver was sacked with three races to go following a terrible run of form.
The vast majority of his career has seen him on the front foot against his teammates and showing his outstanding qualities and skill, though. Here are just a few examples of what he’s done in his F1 career to this point.
- Beats Renault teammate Giancarlo Fisichella by a combined 137 points across 2005 and 2006 as he won the Drivers’ Championship in both years
- Alonso obliterates Massa by 533 points at Ferrari during their four seasons together; just misses out on the title in 2010 and 2012
- Demolishes fellow World Champion Raikkonen by 106 points in 2014 as he finishes P6 in the standings and secures two podiums in a truly uncompetitive Ferrari
- Outscores another fellow World Champion in Jenson Button 65-37 in their two seasons together at McLaren in 2015 and 2016 when there was a lot of problems between the Woking-based team and Honda
- Alonso beats Vandoorne 21-0 in qualifying as he delivers a clean sweep on Saturday afternoons in 2018
The Spaniard is well-known for his exceptional racecraft on the first lap of a Grand Prix and in general during a race. As well as his relentlessness and never give up attitude on a Sunday afternoon, Alonso has shown very consistent race pace/lap times and tyre management throughout his career. Not many drivers on the grid in the past or at present can say they’ve matched him in those areas.
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A bit of awesome Alonso at the start of an epic race 🚀
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Alpine, aka Renault last year, showed strong speed at times in the hands of Daniel Ricciardo at several events. The Australian clinched two podiums and finished 5th in the Drivers’ Championship as he was one of the stars of a unique season.
Can we expect Alonso to do something similar? If the midfield order doesn’t change too much and Ferrari don’t make the step many expect them to, the answer has to be yes.
When the season begins in five weeks' time in Bahrain, Alonso will immediately be regarded as one of the best drivers on the grid, and rightly so. At 39, he’s still fit, hungry and motivated to succeed. As 2018 and his performances in other categories during his time away from F1 showed, the speed is unlikely to have disappeared.
Do not be surprised to see him on the podium for the first time since 2014 and potentially taking a first race victory since 2013 if we get a crazy race like Monza in 2021. Alonso will get the maximum out of his package and will be hopeful of finishing in the top 8 in the championship at a minimum.
Esteban Ocon and the rest of his midfield rivals, beware.