It’s not a prophecy. It’s not a magnanimous statement purposely concocted to prove some random point. Nor is it mistimed hit aiming at glorifying things presumptuously. Truth, however, certainly is that two things aren’t going to grow old in racing folklore; first is the sport Formula 1 itself and the other is, Fernando Alonso.
He’s still a double world champion. He is still the man widely regarded as being competitive perhaps to some oddly enough to take up the challenge of contesting with the great Michael Schumacher himself. He made life a bit tough for then-rookie driver Lewis Hamilton.
Fernando Alonso- a checkered career
He’s excelled with Renault. He hung the Iceman Kimi Raikkonen out to dry during their first year of pairing at the Scuderia. He sat on the Prancing Horse and went on a mission to bring glory to Maranello; in 2012, he came mighty close to bringing glory to Ferrari, finishing just three painful points shy of then champion Sebastian Vettel.
He, in fact, won the very first race in pure red racing overalls. Remember Sakhir in 2010.
In some ways he brought misery to Massa, subsequently becoming the theme of a famous punchline that sells dozens of F1 merchandise. The line says: “Fernando is Faster Than You.”
What’s next? Want more?
Long before he even experiencing a second wind in Formula 1, he had already had a famous racing museum dedicated to his craft and journey in Formula 1.
He made his hometown Spain go wild unleashing a racing fiesta back in 2012, when he won the Valencia-bound European Grand Prix. He suffered initially at McLaren, finding himself exhausted in having to drag the famously non-performing MP4-30 to results like the P5 at Hungary in 2015, returning two years later to the very venue as he set the fastest lap of the race, and that too, on the penultimate lap. That’s when the Ferraris and the twin Mercedes cars were considerably faster.
He shone brightly at the Renault-powered Alpine, earning a podium in the very year of his comeback and that too, at a track he had never previously raced at, much like the rest of the grid.
And he is now excelling with his newfound racing alliance at Aston Martin, where in the first six races of the 2023 season, he bagged 5 excellent podiums.
Fernando Alonso is more than a legend. He is more than some prodigal son of Formula 1 racing and to merely say he’s one of the greats would be greatly undervaluing his ceaseless reserves of energy.
As the oldest man of the current grid turns a year wiser having hit 42, perhaps it’s not even a subject to debate whether Alonso has lost an iota of that desire to excel in the most coveted platform of racing?
On absolute current terms, it is clearly Alonso who leading the proceedings at his English team driving the Aston Martin Aramco Mercedes car; his teammate Lance Stroll with 45 points to his name is currently ninth on the standings while driving that very same machine Alonso is 94 points ahead on third.
No Ferrari driver is even close to matching the great man from Asturias.
But as Fernando Alonso returns to Spa-Francorchamps, the venue where he first gathered a Belgian podium back in 2005, it ought to be said that the birthday boy ought to up his game a bit.
The last that Alonso captured a podium this year was back at Canada, which would be his 104th. A lot has changed since; the likes of Oscar Piastri and Lando Norris have fought back for McLaren, Red Bull have carried upgrades making their already powerful car yet more obliteration-causing. Moreover, Lewis Hamilton, who most recently declared that he’s no longer bothered about where he finishes in 2023 has stood on the podium at his home race at Silverstone.
However, Alonso’s found it a bit too challenging to contest for top three finishes, gathering a fifth at Austria, followed by a seventh at Great Britain and a modest ninth at Hungary.
Here at Spa, home to one of the most awaited and coveted of all F1 venues, Alonso will hope to bring some magic back. And that’s not only because he’s racing just a day after his birthday; but because at the famously daunting track, Fernando Alonso, who’s earned admiration from everyone- whether the late icon Niki Lauda or the great Ron Dennis- has only finished on the podium thrice.
Time to rejig some of that record. But how can it be easy when what’s likely to follow is inclement weather, not to forget a modest qualifying outing as seen yesterday, where the tireless racer bagged a modest P9!