It’s official; Fernando Alonso is off to McLaren. Most people who have had their eyes peeled will know that the Spaniard has been ‘unofficially’ signed for about two months now, but McLaren’s announcement confirms it. Now that his time at Maranello is over, it seems a fitting time to look back at his Ferrari career.
It’s quite surprising that the Spaniard hasn’t managed to claim a third world title given the resources of Maranello’s finest. His best chance was arguably in 2010 when Ferrari, Red Bull and McLaren were all extremely matched, but Ferrari ballsed it up in Abu Dhabi by focusing on Fernando’s bezzie mate Mark Webber, instead of that blonde German kid, who’s now gone and nicked his red car.
His inability to get past Vitaly Petrov’s Renault in 2010 was his undoing, but he got another chance in 2012, when Ferrari’s car was laughably off the pace. Again, he took the fight right to the final race of the year, but couldn’t quite best the Weltmeister again.
It wasn’t THAT slide that ruined his race though, but a virtuoso performance from Sebastian Vettel, racing through the field after a calamitous first lap.
He might not have won the championship with them, but he did win a very impressive 11 races for Ferrari. That’s the same amount that Rubens Barrichello won in his whole career, and he was around for a LONG time!
So, what were Alonso’s finest performances in red? This is what we think…
Before everyone starts, yes this was an inherited victory, thanks to a Red Bull spark plug that most definitely did not give Sebastian Vettel wings. However, it’s testament to the balance of the F10 race car, and of course Alonso’s driving ability that he was in second place when Seb got that sinking feeling.
Almost instantly, Fernando took root in the hearts of Ferrari fans, winning on his debut for the Scuderia. It’s no easy task when you have the weight of the (Italian) world on your shoulders, doubly so considering the prestige of the team.
Only two other men have won in the first outing in a red car; now-former teammate Kimi Raikkonen, and Nigel Mansell. However, neither of these men have facial hair as luxurious as the Spaniard. Our Nige puts up a good fight with his classic moustache, but the beard beats it by a whisker.
Our fourth-placed race was another classic duel, involving a feisty Latin driver. No, he wasn’t racing a clone of himself (which would pose serious questions as to why he didn’t pursue a career in genetic engineering) but Sergio ‘Checo’ Perez, one of the surprises of 2012.
The young Mexican led the rain-soaked race in Kuala Lumpur for a couple of laps earlier on, soaking up not only the weather conditions, but the pressure of being right behind the double-champion. Unfortunately for him, Spongey-o Perez became saturated on lap 50 and slid wide. It allowed Alonso some breathing room and for the final 5 laps he led narrowly, beating the Sauber driver.
The post-race celebrations are memorable for the words of his race director Andrea Stella, who remarked:
“This is one of the most, most beautiful!”
He never did add a noun to finish that sentence, but we can be pretty sure he wasn’t on about the car’s appearance…
Still, an huge win and an enormous boost to Ferrari who had a shoddy winter testing.
Valencia’s street circuit had only ever been synonymous with bore-snore in the past, with featureless and uneventful races, unless you count Mark Webber literally gaining wings in 2010. That was until 2012 came along.
The season that had it all even managed a spectacle along the Americas Cup port, complete with a Pastor Maldonado crash, some overtaking, and Sebastian Vettel throwing his gloves at a TV camera when his engine died.
Of course, the focus was on an amazing win, which saw Fernando climb from ELEVENTH on the grid, to the very top, beating Kimi Raikkonen to the win. What’s more, the Hamilton/Maldonado incident elevated Michael Schumacher to third place, and saw perhaps the most iconic podium of all time, with three generations of Felipe Massa teammates…err, I mean, three generations of Ferrari hero stood upon it.
Alonso was the victor and had won his home race for the second time. It seemed like a passing of the baton that year, like the result had inducted him into the Scuderia hall of fame, with a knowing nod from Raikkonen and Schumacher, who both flanked him on the rostrum.
That got deep really quick, eh?!
If not his two World Championship wins, Fernando Alonso will most likely be remembered for his sublime starts. 2013’s Ferrari was no match for the Red Bull or Mercedes, despite their best efforts, but in spite of this ‘Nando managed to prance his horse to two early wins that season.
The win in China was pretty impressive, but his third home win in Spain pretty much summed up his career: dragging a car that had no business being at the front… well, to the front, AND in front of his home crowd.
Perhaps willed on by the adoring Catalan support, Alonso jumped from sixth to fourth at the start, and then pipped Hamilton at turn 3 to move into third. Without this excellent getaway, he probably wouldn’t have been in the strong position he was in when the pit stops came around to take the win.
The second race in this list from the year he really ought to have won the title, Monza 2010 was a classic. It saw a tense showdown between himself and reigning champion Jenson Button. Neither driver would budge an inch on-track, and it was only through a superior pit strategy that the Catalan hero triumphed.
It could well have been a three-way fight, but Lewis Hamilton decided that he would rather bash his front suspension against Felipe Massa on the first lap, dashing those hopes immediately.
His first race for Ferrari in front of the adoring Tifosi was iconic, and the sight of him, and third-placed team mate Massa, on the podium was one that fans will remember for years to come.
Do you agree with our choices? And do you think he will have the upper hand at McLaren? Let us know in the comments below!