He won his first-ever race with Ferrari amid roaring crowds and spine-tingling excitement, kickstarting the 2010 season with a bang (Sakhir, Bahrain). He stopped Vettel and Hamilton that same year to blaze past the checkered flag at Monza in his debut season with the Scuderia, and with it, ended nearly half-a-decade long draught of a win for the Prancing Horse at its home Grand Prix. He flew from fifth on the grid in Spain, 2013, to race past the finish line to notch up arguably one of the greatest wins witnessed at Catalunya ever.
He was undoubtedly, the only resistor to Sebastian Vettel’s unprecedented rise during 2010-13, pitting a Ferrari, not often that quick to the blazing speed of the Red Bull as often the best, and the second-best machine on the track.
The same year where Kimi, among the fastest drivers on the grid, struggled to put together a fast lap, scoring merely 55 points from one full season, he dived into the challenge and put up a valiant act for the Maranello-based outfit, notching up 161 points. Remember 2014?
His win at Singapore, 2010, is still hailed for its breathtaking car control and fierce racing.
But he proved it way before he was second to none, maybe not even the great Michael Schumacher.
At a time where it seemed incredibly taxing to stop Michael Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya and the likes, he raised the bar of Grand Prix racing by registering back-to-back world titles with Renault, the very team with whom he’s all set for a return.
After spending 2 years away from the F1 grid where instead of taking it easy, he honed his craft further, all but stealing the famed triple crown in top-notch racing, Fernando Alonso is back. And he’s all set to race with the celebrated French Constructor for the 2021 season, it’s now been confirmed.
Pumped regarding his much-talked-about comeback to the top annals of the sport with the very team he tasted the ultimate high, Fernando Alonso was all-excitement as he exclaimed,”Renault is my family, my fondest memories in Formula One with my two World Championship titles, but I’m now looking ahead. It’s a great source of pride and with an immense emotion I’m returning to the team that gave me my chance at the start of my career and which now gives me the opportunity to return to the highest level.”
You regard Jenson Button for his silky touch and smooth driving. You respect the commitment of Nico Rosberg and the passion of Felipe Massa. You admire the longevity of Kimi Raikkonen, who against expectations, clocked the fastest lap in the sport, aged 38.
And you can ever stop marveling at all that Lewis Hamilton has achieved. But when it comes to Fernando Alonso- 32 race wins, 97 podiums, 23 fastest laps- you are instantly reminded of the adage- “Never say die.”
Among the few drivers who often exceed expectations and are renowned to extract the very best from the car, not just a hollow statement of praise, but ascertained by feats such as Alonso setting the fastest lap at the 2017 Hungarian GP (lap 69, 1:20:182) when the Spanish driver was contesting with a recalcitrant McLaren, F1, one feels, will be enriched by the return of the ‘Samurai.’
With his return, the prospect of expecting something exasperating and thrilling in 2021, where Sebastian Vettel may not feature at all, and where the likes of Albon, Norris, Russell, Leclerc may have matured into even stronger forces becomes realistic.
While on the one hand, the sight of a veteran driver, then 39 competing with drivers nearly half his age would be a rather interesting proposition, it would in many ways, offer much of F1’s growing bastion of talents a fantastic opportunity to test their skills against one of the all-time greats.
Fernando Alonso, upbeat about a second wind at the sport he’s enriched with unbending passion, shared few more thoughts and stated, “I have principles and ambitions in line with the team’s project. Their progress this winter gives credibility to the objectives for the 2022 season and I will share all my racing experience with everyone from the engineers to the mechanics and my team-mates. The team wants and has the means to get back on the podium, as do I.”
That being said, Alonso’s return also fuels the dreams of Renault to emerge as the better of the rest in the fierce battle for the midfield where they are already fighting the likes of Racing Point, Alfa Romeo, and McLaren. Having a seasoned campaigner with redoubtable credentials against his name can only elevate the stage for Enstone-based outfit.
Delighted with his comeback, team principal Cyril Abiteboul contended,” The signing of Fernando Alonso is part of Groupe Renault’s plan to continue its commitment to F1 and to return to the top of the field. His presence in our team is a formidable asset on the sporting level but also for the brand to which he is very attached. The strength of the bond between him, the team and the fans make him a natural choice. In addition to past successes, it is a bold mutual choice as well as a project for the future.”