The last that Fernando Alonso picked up a Formula 1 podium, which was prior to March 5, 2023, was on November 21, 2021. It was Qatar and Formula 1 had made its maiden visit to that Middle Eastern turf usually known for MotoGP; not Grand Prix racing as such.
The P3 then was upon his F1 comeback where the great Spanish driver had made his way back to the grid after three long years of absence.
But here’s the catch.
The double world champion had picked up a podium on his twentieth attempt in that season.
This time, however, as Fernando Alonso picked up another podium in his checkered F1 career, the contests have just started and it’s race number #1 of a brand new season.
The signs are all there; impeccable car control, great speed and tyre management and lest one forgets, the lion-hearted approach towards competing with the remainder of the grid.
But what’s truly significant in this dogged effort is that Alonso is flying once again albeit with a team of which he had little prior knowledge.
It, however, is also a team where, technically speaking, Lance Stroll is Fernando Alonso’s senior
Why Fernando Alonso’s effort ought to be celebrated is because the great man from Oviedo didn’t begin the contest from either the front row or the second row.
His brilliant pass on Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz Jr., which came in the latter stages of the contest with only a handful of laps to go was emblematic of the Fernando Alonso motto: that it’s never over until it’s done and one should never say never in a Formula 1 Grand Prix.
In some ways, it was also a handy lesson to Sainz who may have been pleasantly surprised that the old guard, who in this case happened to be his hero, was out there to get the better of him; the pupil.
But then, one could also argue that the great Fernando Alonso podium at Bahrain, and he has three previous podiums to his name here, was a result of Leclerc’s retirement.
Leclerc, who’d been running in third would retire on lap 41 with sixteen more to go, which prompted Sainz to bag P3 at that point. Later, the Ferrari driver’s pursuant would blaze past the man who has always hero worshipped him in a battle that somehow didn’t rage for much long.
Call it the SF-23 having a hard day or call it a day to forget
Though, truth be told, it was Fernando Alonso’s impact. Central to the veteran racer’s brilliant result at Sakhir was also the decisive move on the outside of Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes, a sight that compelled the avid F1 fan to remember the 2007 season where the fighting duo had battled as teammates.
What’s rather emphatic is that besides finishing ahead of Lance Stroll at the 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix, Alonso’s now taken his overall F1 tally to 99 podiums.
One more shot and the man from Asturias would be hitting a century of podiums in Formula 1. It’s a great league to belong. It’s a league composite of only F1 greats.