Alonso at the 2010 Malaysian Grand Prix
|Date of birth||29 July 1981|
|Formula One World Championship career|
|2010 car #||8|
|2011 car #||5|
|Races||159 (158 starts)|
|Championships||2 (2005, 2006)|
|First race||2001 Australian Grand Prix|
|First win||2003 Hungarian Grand Prix|
|Last win||2010 Korean Grand Prix|
|Last race||2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix|
|2010 position||2nd (252 pts)|
Fernando Alonso Díaz (born 29 July 1981) is a Spanish Formula One racing driver and a two-time World Champion, who is currently racing for Ferrari alongside Felipe Massa.
On 25 September 2005, he won the Formula One World Driver's Championship title at the age of 24 years and 58 days, breaking Emerson Fittipaldi's record of being the youngest Formula One World Drivers' Champion (this record was subsequently broken by Lewis Hamilton then broken again by Sebastian Vettel). After retaining the title the following year, Alonso also became the youngest double Champion. In 2007, he became the second F1 driver, after Michael Schumacher, to score at least 100 points for three consecutive seasons. Nicknamed El Nano, a typical pseudonym for Fernando in Asturias, his place of birth, Alonso acts as a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF. In Formula One, he is often referred to as "the most complete driver on the grid".
Personal and early life
Fernando Alonso was born in Oviedo, Asturias in northern Spain. His mother worked in a department store and his father was employed as a mechanic in an explosives factory near Oviedo. Alonso has an older sister, Lorena. Alonso's father José Luis, an amateur kart racer, wanted to pass on his passion to his children. He built a kart, originally meant for eight-year-old Lorena, but unlike her three-year-old brother, she showed no interest in the sport.
Alonso is married to Raquel del Rosario, lead singer of Spanish pop band El Sueño de Morfeo. The two were married on November 17, 2006.
They lived in Oxford, England until they moved their residence to Switzerland in 2006. Alonso owned a house in Mont-sur-Rolle, near Lake Geneva from 2006 to 2010, and in February 2010 he moved house to Lugano in order to be closer to his new Formula One employer Ferrari. It is highly common for Formula One stars to take up residence in Switzerland to reduce their tax bills.
He is an avid card tricks fan and usually demonstrates various tricks during the race weekend. He is also interested in other sports, like cycling, football and tennis. Alonso has hinted at running a cycling team in the 2011 edition of the Tour de France with Alberto Contador leading the team.
In addition to Spanish, he speaks English and Italian.
As a child, Alonso participated in karting competitions around Spain, supported by his father, who also doubled as his mechanic. His family lacked the financial resources needed to develop a career in motorsport, but his victories attracted sponsorship and the required funds. Alonso won four Spanish championships back-to-back in the junior category, between 1993 and 1996 and the Junior World Cup in 1996. He won the Spanish and Italian Inter-A titles in 1997 and in 1998 won the Spanish Inter-A title again as well as finishing second in the European Championship.
Former Minardi F1 driver Adrián Campos gave Alonso his first test in a race car in October 1998. After three days of testing at the Albacete circuit, Alonso had matched the lap times of Campos' previous driver Marc Gené. Campos signed Alonso to race for him in the 1999 Spanish Euro Open MoviStar by Nissan series. In his second race, again at Albacete, Alonso won for the first time. He took the championship by one point from championship rival Manuel Giao by winning and setting fastest lap at the last race of the season. Alonso also tested for the Minardi Formula One team, lapping 1.5 seconds faster than the other drivers at the test.
The following season Alonso moved up to Formula 3000, which was often the final step for drivers before ascending to Formula One. Alonso joined Team Astromega and was the youngest driver in the series that year by eleven months. Alonso didn't score a point until the seventh race of the year, but in the final two rounds he took a second place and a victory, enough for him to end the season fourth overall behind Bruno Junqueira, Nicolas Minassian and Mark Webber.
Formula One career
Alonso was the third-youngest driver ever to start a Formula One race when he made his debut with Minardi at the Australian Grand Prix. The team was in its first season under the control of new owner Paul Stoddart and their new car, the PS01, was neither fast nor reliable. However Alonso's qualifying performance was good, outqualifying team-mate Tarso Marques by 2.6 seconds on début. At the fourth round at Imola he outqualified both Benettons, a feat he repeated later in the season.
Notable performances over the season earned him some attention from the faster teams. It was reported in September 2001 by some of the European press that Sauber were looking to replace outgoing Kimi Räikkönen with Alonso although he was facing competition for the seat from Felipe Massa and then Jaguar test driver André Lotterer. A month later it was confirmed that Massa was going to take the vacant Sauber seat for 2002.
In September, his manager Flavio Briatore had begun planning to place Alonso at Benetton. Briatore considered promoting Alonso for 2002, in place of his race driver Jenson Button, but instead chose to take Alonso on as Renault test driver for 2002. At the final round of the season at Suzuka he finished eleventh—five places outside the points but ahead of Heinz-Harald Frentzen's Prost, the BAR of Olivier Panis, the two Arrows and his team-mate Alex Yoong. Four years later, his team boss from the Minardi days, Paul Stoddart, described his race as "53 laps of qualifying". He scored no points in the season; his best finish being tenth at the German Grand Prix.
Alonso became test driver for Renault in 2002 (Renault having taken over the Benetton team) and did 1,642 laps of testing that year. In 2003 Briatore dropped Button and put Alonso in the second seat alongside Jarno Trulli. Briatore was criticised by the British media for the decision, but technical director Mike Gascoyne later insisted to F1 Racing that the decision was correct, since the team had been impressed with Alonso's work rate and talent during his season as test driver.
The Spaniard became the youngest driver to achieve a Formula One pole position at the Malaysian Grand Prix. Alonso had a 180 mph crash at the Brazilian Grand Prix, the result of missing the double yellow flags and Safety Car boards brought out by Mark Webber's earlier crash and colliding with the debris. The race was red-flagged. He finished second at his home grand prix two races later, and at the time became the youngest driver to win a Formula One race at the Hungarian Grand Prix. He finished the year sixth in the championship, with 55 points and four podiums.
Alonso remained with Renault for the 2004 season, scoring podiums in Australia, France, Germany and Hungary. At Indianapolis he suffered a high-speed accident while running in third place after a tyre deflated. In France he took pole position and finished second, running Michael Schumacher close for victory. Towards the end of the year teammate Jarno Trulli's performances deteriorated and he dropped Renault boss Flavio Briatore as his manager. Trulli's relationship with the team deteriorated to the extent that he signed for Toyota from 2005 onwards, and he was replaced for the final three races of the season by former world champion Jacques Villeneuve. Alonso ended the year fourth in the championship standings with 59 points.
For the 2005 season, Alonso was joined at Renault by Italian driver Giancarlo Fisichella. At the first race in Australia Alonso started near the back due to rain in qualifying but fought his way to third. He won the next two races in Malaysia and Bahrain from pole position, and took a third win in the San Marino Grand Prix after a 13-lap battle with Michael Schumacher.
McLaren's improving form saw Räikkönen win in Spain and Monaco while Alonso finished second and fourth, respectively. Räikkönen was on course to win the European Grand Prix at the Nürburgring when his car's front-right suspension failed (due to a flat spot on the tyre caused by Räikkönen locking his wheels under braking while passing Jacques Villeneuve) on the last lap, giving victory to Alonso.
Alonso failed to score in the Canadian and United States Grands Prix. He crashed out of the former, and in the latter all the Michelin runners withdrew due to safety concerns over their tyres. Alonso took his third pole position and fifth win at the French Grand Prix. He followed this with pole position a week later at the British Grand Prix, where he finished second behind Montoya. McLaren's Kimi Räikkönen led the German Grand Prix until his car's hydraulics failed. Alonso went on to win the race.
Alonso qualified 6th in the Hungarian Grand Prix but finished 11th after a collision with the Toyota of Ralf Schumacher. As the season entered its final stages Alonso finished second in three consecutive races, collecting vital championship points. Räikkönen won in Turkey and Belgium, but was fourth at Monza after engine trouble in qualifying, meaning Alonso's lead had been reduced by only one point.
Alonso sealed the title by finishing third in Brazil while Montoya won from Räikkönen. The Spaniard became the youngest Drivers' Champion at the age of 24 years and 59 days old, breaking Emerson Fittipaldi's record. He also ended the 5-year dominance of Michael Schumacher.
Commenting on his victory, he said: "I just want to dedicate this championship to my family, and all my close friends who have supported me through my career. Spain is not a country with an F1 culture, and we had to fight alone, every step of the way, to make this happen. A huge thank-you should also go to the team as well — they are the best in Formula One, and we have done this together. It will say that I am world champion, but we are all champions — and they deserve this." In the May 2007 issue of F1 Racing, Alonso said that the 2005 Brazilian Grand Prix was his greatest race. He said, "It was a dream come true and a very emotional day. In the last few laps I leaped, thinking I could hear noises from the engine- from everywhere! But all was okay and I can remember my relief when I crossed the finish line."
The Japanese and Chinese Grands Prix saw Alonso and Renault abandon the conservative style evident in Brazil when he was still chasing the drivers' title. Starting from 16th on the grid, he eventually finished third behind Räikkönen and Fisichella. The Chinese Grand Prix saw Renault and Alonso win to claim the first Constructors' Championship for the Renault F1 team.
In 2005, he was awarded with the Sports Prince of Asturias Award.
Alonso won the first race of the 2006 season in Bahrain, overtaking Michael Schumacher after coming out of the pit lane with 18 laps left, after starting fourth. He qualified seventh at the Malaysian Grand Prix due to a fuelling error but finished second to team mate Giancarlo Fisichella. He won the Australian Grand Prix after overtaking leader Jenson Button's Honda.
After poor qualifying at San Marino, Alonso was unable to pass Michael Schumacher in an encounter that echoed their battle the previous year. Schumacher beat Alonso again in the European Grand Prix after the Spaniard started on pole, but Alonso hit back, becoming the first Spaniard to win the Spanish Grand Prix. Alonso took pole position for the Monaco Grand Prix after Schumacher was penalised by the stewards for "deliberately [stopping] his car on the circuit in the last few minutes of qualifying", denying his rivals, Alonso included, the opportunity of recording fastest qualifying lap. Alonso won the race.
He extended his winning streak to four races with victories in Britain and Canada. Both wins came from pole position, and the British round was his first win, pole and fastest lap treble. Schumacher's fight back began at Indianapolis where the German won and Alonso was fifth. Schumacher won the French Grand Prix, with Alonso in second, and the Spaniard was fifth in the German Grand Prix. That cut Alonso's championship lead to 11 points.
Alonso incurred a penalty for an infraction in practice at the Hungarian Grand Prix which left him 15th on the grid. Schumacher started 11th after receiving a similar penalty. Alonso looked set for an unlikely win as he overtook most of the field, including Schumacher around the outside of turn five, as he showed prowess in the wet conditions, but he crashed out of the race when a wheel nut fell off his car following a pit stop. Schumacher scored one point after Robert Kubica was disqualified.
Alonso finished second in Turkey, holding back third-placed Schumacher to claim two vital points, but he lost a lot of ground after a controversial Italian Grand Prix. He suffered a puncture during qualifying that damaged bodywork at the back of his car. He qualified fifth but was later punished by the stewards for impeding Felipe Massa's Ferrari, and he started the race from tenth. In the race he rose to third place before an engine failure forced him to retire. Schumacher won the Grand Prix and cut Alonso's Championship lead to two points.
At the following round in China, Alonso took pole position during a wet qualifying session but finished second to Schumacher in the race. The result tied Alonso and Schumacher on points in the drivers championship. At the Japanese Grand Prix, the Ferraris of Schumacher and Massa qualified first and second, more than half a second faster than the Renaults in fifth and sixth. But during the race Alonso rose to second and took the win after Schumacher's engine failed. It gave him a ten point advantage over Schumacher, needing only one point from the final round to retain the title. Second place in the Brazilian Grand Prix on October 22 gave Alonso the championship. With Schumacher finishing fourth, the final difference was 13 points. Alonso thus became the youngest double champion in the sport's history. Renault also clinched the Constructors' Championship with a 5-point gap over Ferrari.
On December 19, 2005, Alonso announced that he would be moving to McLaren for 2007. His contract with Renault was set to expire on December 31, 2006. However, on December 15, 2006, Alonso was allowed by Flavio Briatore and the Renault F1 Team to test for one day for McLaren at Jerez, as a result of his successes with Renault. Driving an unbranded MP4-21 and wearing a plain white helmet and overalls, Alonso completed 95 laps. Lewis Hamilton was chosen as his partner for the season. McLaren were reported to be paying Alonso £ 20 million (approx $ 39 million c. 2007) in 2007. Alonso debuted with the new McLaren car on January 15, 2007, in the streets of Valencia.
On 8 April 2007 in his second race for the team, Alonso secured his first win for McLaren, and the team's first since 2005, by leading the majority of the Malaysian Grand Prix. A difficult drive at Bahrain's Sakhir circuit a week later, saw him finishing fifth behind his rookie team mate who took a podium finish. In the fourth race of the year in Spain, his home grand prix, he qualified second, but suffered a first lap collision with Felipe Massa which caused some damage to his car and dropped him to fourth, before finishing third. On May 27, Alonso secured his second victory for McLaren at Monaco, scoring pole position, fastest lap and the race win and in the process lapping the entire field up to 3rd position. At the Nürburgring he took his third win of the year in a dramatic race affected by intermittent rain showers, overtaking Massa for the lead with just four laps remaining. After the controversy at the Hungarian Grand Prix (see below), however, relations between Alonso and his team declined. It was reported in the media that he was no longer on speaking terms with Hamilton, and it was speculated that he might leave McLaren at the end of the season. On 7 August 2007 The Times reported that McLaren would let Alonso leave the team at the end of the season if he wished, two years earlier than his contract allowed. Alonso went on to finish third in the driver's championship, level on points with team-mate Hamilton and just one point behind World Champion Kimi Räikkönen (the closest 1–2–3 in WDC history).
As part of the espionage controversy between McLaren and Ferrari, the former were found guilty of breaching the Article 151c of the FIA's sporting regulations but went unpunished due to a lack of evidence. However, following the acquisition of new evidence by the FIA, a new hearing was held on September 13. The new evidence consisted largely of email traffic between Alonso and test driver Pedro de la Rosa.The FIA's World Motor Sport Council report following the hearing stated that Alonso and de la Rosa had obtained and used confidential Ferrari technical data and sporting strategy information from senior McLaren engineer Mike Coughlan via Ferrari employee Nigel Stepney, including during test sessions. Both drivers were spared sanctions in exchange for providing evidence.
On 2 November 2007, after a turbulent year with McLaren, it was announced that McLaren and Alonso had mutually agreed to terminate his contract and that he would be free to join any team for 2008 without paying McLaren any compensation.
2008–2009: Return to Renault
Alonso was linked with several teams for the 2008 season after his split with McLaren. Renault, Red Bull, Toyota and Honda were all suggested in the media. Renault's Flavio Briatore stated that he would welcome Alonso's return to the French team. On 10 December 2007, Alonso signed a two-year contract to drive for Renault alongside Brazilian driver Nelson Piquet, Jr. for around £25 million.
In the first two rounds of the 2008 season, the Renault was not as competitive as it had previously been. Alonso finished fourth and eighth in Australia and Malaysia respectively, fuelling rumours that Alonso would leave the team because he was disappointed with his Renault and was either moving to BMW Sauber, Honda or Toyota. BMW boss Mario Theissen was keen to get Alonso to replace Nick Heidfeld in order to get the team their first win. Honda rumours started when Alonso said in an interview that he felt there was something about Honda and he wanted to drive for them in 2009 and switching to Ferrari in 2010. Toyota said they were eager to give a top driver their seat. But the most likely place that Alonso would go was to replace Felipe Massa at Ferrari in 2009, especially in light of the general belief that there was an "out clause" in Fernando Alonso's contract with Renault which would give him the freedom to move to another team for the next season should he be able to secure a deal. However Ferrari president Luca Cordero di Montezemolo stated that Massa's seat in the team was secure and would stay that way until the end of his contract in 2010. Räikkönen was also given a two-year contract extension to partner Massa until the end of 2010, essentially closing the door on Alonso for a possible move to Ferrari. In 2008, Alonso denied the "out clause" rumour.
In the Bahrain Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton ran into the back of Alonso's Renault, heavily damaging the rear wing of the Spaniard's car, as well as his own nosecone. Stewards did not seek to investigate the incident but critics alleged he braked (or didn't accelerate as expected) in front of Hamilton causing Hamilton to crash into him. The telemetry data from Alonso's car proved these accusations to be wrong. Hamilton himself stated "I was behind him, and I moved to the right, and he moved to the right and that was it – a racing incident I guess". It was later revealed by McLaren that Hamilton's front wing, which was damaged when he hit Alonso earlier in the race, had broken seconds before the impact and has been identified as the cause of the crash. Alonso started the Spanish Grand Prix with promising pace, qualifying on the front row in second place behind Kimi Räikkönen even though he had a light fuel load. He was running in fifth place when his engine blew on lap 35. He praised his team after finishing sixth in the Turkish Grand Prix, as he was behind the more competitive BMW cars at the end, and said that the result "confirms the progress we have made, and is thanks to the hard work of everyone in the team".
Alonso failed to score in the next two races, finishing tenth at the Monaco Grand Prix, after puncturing a tyre against the barrier and a collision with Nick Heidfeld and retiring from the Canadian Grand Prix after crashing into the wall on lap 45, having qualified fourth. Alonso had been keeping pace with the BMW Saubers, who would eventually go on to record their maiden win with Robert Kubica after pitlane dramas plagued both Ferrari and McLaren. In France, Alonso qualified behind the two Ferraris in third, aided by Lewis Hamilton's grid penalty for the pit-lane accident in Canada. However, he was on a light fuel load, and his task was made much harder by being beaten by the slower Toyota of Jarno Trulli at the start. He then faded back to seventh and towards the end of the race while catching Mark Webber's Red Bull he ran wide at the Adelaide hairpin and slipped behind team-mate Piquet, Jr. to finish eighth.
Alonso finished sixth at Silverstone, saying that he had used up all of his available tyres for the unpredictable wet conditions, and that by using practically slick tyres towards the end, he lost a lot of time in certain places on the track. Despite qualifying fifth at the German Grand Prix, he finished in eleventh after spinning off whilst battling with the Williams of Nico Rosberg. In the Hungarian Grand Prix, he finished in fourth place having started seventh, aided by Lewis Hamilton's early puncture and Felipe Massa's engine failing in the closing stages.
In the European Grand Prix, Alonso performed strongly in all three practice sessions and the first round of qualifying. However, he failed to make it through the second round of qualifying, starting 12th. During the opening lap of the race, Alonso was hit by Kazuki Nakajima in the rear wing of his car and sustained unrepairable damage to his gearbox, and was forced to retire from the race. In Belgium, Alonso ran in the top five for most of the race, but when heavy rain fell towards the end of the race, he gambled on pitting for wet tyres with one lap to go. He dropped four places, but a fast final lap saw him reclaim the lost spots, passing Kubica and Sebastian Vettel at the final corner. In the Italian Grand Prix, Alonso achieved his second consecutive fourth place, and allowed Renault to equal Toyota for fourth in the constructors standings.
For further information on the investigation, see Renault Formula One crash controversy.
Alonso claimed his first victory and podium of the season by winning the Singapore Grand Prix. After performing strongly in practice, a fuel pressure problem in the second part of qualifying forced him to park the car, causing him to qualify 15th. In the race he started with a light fuel load on soft tyres, and pitted early when he realised that this would not be successful. However, team-mate Piquet crashed bringing out the safety car, which eliminated the lead of the frontrunners. When they pitted after the pit lane was reopened, they rejoined behind those who had already stopped. This moved Alonso up among top six, and he ultimately won the race, earning the 20th win and 50th podium of his career. In September 2009, after being dropped by Renault, Piquet said that the crash had been intentional and had been requested by Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds. Alonso was declared to be innocent by the subsequent FIA investigation.
Alonso carried his good form into the Japanese Grand Prix, for which he qualified fourth. Running on a two stop strategy Alonso won his second successive race, finishing ahead of Kubica and Räikkönen. In the last 2 races in China and Brazil, Alonso scored a fourth and a second place respectively. In the last eight races of the season Alonso scored 48 points, which was more than any other driver (over the same period Massa scored 43 points and Hamilton scored 40 points). He finished the season fifth overall with 61 points, while also enabling Renault to finish fourth in the constructors standings with 80 points, ahead of fifth-placed Toyota.
On 5 November, Flavio Briatore confirmed that Renault had agreed a two year extension on Alonso's original contract, ending speculation about a supposed move to Ferrari, and a Renault contract "out-clause".
|Alonso at the 2009 Turkish Grand Prix,.|
The new Renault R29 car did not meet up to Alonso's expectations at the start of the year, after it performed poorly in winter testing, despite the fact that there were no major reliability issues. For the second consecutive year, Nelson Piquet, Jr. would be his team-mate.
In the Australian Grand Prix he avoided a first lap accident and benefited from the late safety car in the closing stages, deployed for Robert Kubica and Sebastian Vettel's collision, to finish fifth. Although pleased to score points, he was "disappointed" at how his KERS system worked during the race. He did not score points in Malaysia (eleventh) or China (ninth, after he qualified in second), finishing over a minute behind the race winner on both occasions.
He finished eighth in the Bahrain Grand Prix, despite struggling with a broken drinks bottle during the race, which resulted in him collapsing with dehydration during a post-race TV interview. In Spain he spent most of the race in sixth despite an exciting battle with Mark Webber early on, before capitalising on Felipe Massa backing off with fuel conservation worries on the last lap, and going on to finish fifth. In Monaco, he benefited from the retirements of Heikki Kovalainen and Sebastian Vettel to score two points for seventh after a steady performance from ninth on the grid.
He failed to score any points in Turkey, as he was unable to keep pace with the frontrunners, and struggled on to finish tenth, while in Britain, he lost places at the start, and got stuck behind Nick Heidfeld early on. Despite some good fights, especially with former teammate Lewis Hamilton, the poor pace of his car meant he was always likely to struggle for points and finished in 14th, two places behind team-mate Piquet. At the Nurburgring, Alonso lost places at the first corner, before getting stuck in traffic. However, he went on to finish seventh, and was catching the two Brawn cars of Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello towards the end. For the last stint, he was the fastest man on the track, half a second quicker than the leaders, which resulted in the fastest lap of the race.
In Hungary, he took his only pole position of the season (on a short fuel load), and led for the first stint of the race until his retirement, when his pit-crew fitted a wheel incorrectly. After replacing the wheel, Alonso retired with a fuel pump problem. In Valencia, he finished in sixth place, describing it was the best he could do, after his team appealed successfully over a one-race ban suspended for the race after the pit-stop incident in Hungary. However, his fastest race lap was slower than new team-mate Romain Grosjean, replacing the sacked Piquet, despite Grosjean spending most of the race towards the back.
Alonso was forced to retire in Belgium in a near repeat of the front tyre incident in Hungary, although this time the tyre was damaged after contact with Adrian Sutil's Force India on the first lap. This led to a chaotic pit stop when a replacement tyre could not be fitted properly and his team chose to retire him on safety grounds to avoid a further sanction following the Hungarian incident. At Monza he finished sixth, passing McLaren's Heikki Kovalainen during the race, despite again complaining about the car's KERS system, particularly after getting away from the grid poorly.
He finished in a strong third place in Singapore, admitting that it was a great result, "allowing to put behind us the past few weeks". However, this was his and Renault's only podium of 2009, a year after the Crashgate saga. Alonso controversially dedicated his podium afterwards to recently departed team boss Flavio Briatore, saying "he is part of the success we had today".
In Japan, he was penalised five grid places for failing to slow down for yellow flags after Sébastien Buemi crashed, scattering debris onto the track. The R29's pace was again disappointing, when he could only manage to climb up to 10th from 16th place on the grid, despite a late safety car period after Jaime Alguersuari crashed heavily. Alonso said that his race was pretty much decided in qualifying, although he admitted that his car seemed to be fairly competitive. In Brazil however, he retired on the first lap when Adrian Sutil and Jarno Trulli collided, and Alonso was unable to avoid the out-of-control Force India, which had spun onto the wet grass, terminally damaging a sidepod on the Spaniard's car, forcing him to retire.
He admitted that he had wanted to end his successful period at Renault on a high at the final race of the year in Abu Dhabi. However, he spent the whole race towards the back of the grid, and finished 14th after qualifying in 16th. After the race, he paid tribute to Renault, saying that he wanted "to thank the entire team for everything that we have achieved together", and wanted to concentrate on the positives during his time with Renault, which had included winning the 2005 and 2006 world championship titles. He finished ninth in the drivers standings overall, scoring all of Renault's 26 points during the season. As a result, Renault only finished eighth in the constructors ahead of two other teams, Force India and Toro Rosso.
2010: Switch to Ferrari
|Alonso in his first race for Ferrari at the 2010 Bahrain |
Grand Prix, where he won the race,.
After much speculation, on 30 September 2009, Alonso was confirmed to be replacing Kimi Räikkönen at the Ferrari team, partnering Felipe Massa, a move known as "the worst-kept secret in F1". His contract covers three seasons (2010–2012), with speculated options until the end of 2014. Though his contract is said to have been signed as early as July 2008, Alonso confirmed only having a Summer-2009 agreement with Ferrari for a 2011 start, which was later changed to 2010. Ferrari and Räikkönen, whom Alonso will replace, had agreed to end their contract one year early. Though it was reported that Alonso's contract was worth €25-million per season, Ferrari released a statement that cast doubts over the salary offered, stating that "the numbers talked about have absolutely nothing to do with reality." Ferrari also cast doubt on "the arrival of technicians" with Alonso. At the first race in Bahrain, Alonso qualified third behind team mate Massa and pole sitter Sebastian Vettel. At the start, Alonso got ahead of Massa to move up to second and later on in the race, leader Vettel had an engine problem and dropped to fourth and Alonso won the race, becoming the fifth man to win on his debut for Ferrari after Juan Manuel Fangio in 1956, Mario Andretti in 1971, Nigel Mansell in 1989, and Kimi Räikkönen in 2007. Team mate Massa came second taking a 1–2 for Ferrari and Alonso's former McLaren team mate Lewis Hamilton came through to finish third.
In the Australian Grand Prix, Alonso qualified third behind the two Red Bull cars of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber. At the start, on a damp track, Alonso was tipped into a spin by eventual race winner Jenson Button, and rejoined last. Alonso charged back to fourth and then held off late race attacks from Lewis Hamilton and Mark Webber to finish fourth, only two seconds behind teammate Felipe Massa.
In China, Alonso qualified third again, behind Vettel and Webber. Alonso jumped the start, for which he was later given a drive-through penalty, which dropped him down to 15th, over a minute behind race leader Nico Rosberg. With the help of a safety car which bunched the field together, and due to a series of overtaking manoeuvres, Alonso finished fourth. During the race, one of his overtaking maneuvers was on team-mate Massa as the two entered the pit lane to change to intermediate tyres when the rain came. This aggressive overtaking, in which Massa had to put two wheels on the grass to avoid a collision, and then had to wait behind Alonso during Alonso's stop which cost him a few places, raised questions that all was not well between the Ferrari teammates. However, both drivers quickly quashed the speculation, saying that the overtaking did not affect the relationship between the drivers at all, and that they are as friendly as they were before.
The first European round was in Spain where Alonso qualified fourth behind the Red Bulls and former McLaren team mate Hamilton. Alonso ran fourth until the final 15 laps of the race, when he first was elevated to third after Vettel suffered brake problems which forced him to go for an extra pit stop, and then gained another place when Hamilton's tyre failed on the penultimate lap. He finished second, thus getting his first podium after the win in Bahrain.
In Monaco, Alonso crashed his car in practice and was unable to take part in qualifying. He started 24th and last but charged up to sixth. On the last lap, Michael Schumacher passed him under the safety car to take the place, but was then penalized for the overtaking, giving sixth back to Alonso.
For the Canadian Grand Prix, Alonso qualified fourth and was promoted to third after Mark Webber's penalty for a gearbox change. He finished third after a racelong battle with the McLarens and Red Bulls, getting only his second podium after his win in Bahrain.
In the next round in Valencia, Alonso secured fourth on the grid in qualifying. During the race, he was right on the gearbox of Lewis Hamilton's McLaren when the Safety Car was deployed following Mark Webber's somersaulting crash after rear-ending Heikki Kovalainen. After a brief hesitation, Hamilton drove past the Safety Car, while Alonso and Massa took up position behind it. This allowed the McLaren driver (and several other drivers) to secure a significant advantage, and following their pitstops, the Ferrari drivers found themselves at the tail end of the field. Alonso was heard over the team radio insisting that Ferrari take up the matter with race director Charlie Whiting. The FIA stewards did ultimately award Hamilton a drive-through penalty, but the significant delay between the offence and the verdict (due to a delay in securing aerial footage of Hamilton's pass on the Safety Car) and the relatively short length of the pitlane at Valencia, meant that Hamilton was able to re-emerge from the pits without losing position. Finishing the race in eighth position, Alonso criticised the FIA for 'manipulating' the race result, a statement which he later moderated. Ferrari were equally critical of the FIA's stewarding of the event.
At the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, Alonso lined up third on the grid. However, clutch problems at the start caused his Ferrari to bog down and Alonso had dropped several positions by the time the pack reached the first corner. Alonso attempted to stage a fightback, and while attempting to pass Robert Kubica's Renault down the outside at Vale, was forced on to the grass as Kubica closed the door on him. Alonso rejoined the track ahead of Kubica, and maintained track position ahead of the Pole. Alonso was heard on the radio explaining to his team that Kubica had forced him on to the grass, while Kubica informed his team that Alonso had illegally passed him by cutting the chicane. After some delay, the stewards awarded Alonso a drive-through penalty for failing to yield the position back to Kubica. The situation was further exacerbated by the untimely deployment of the Safety Car owing to debris on the track, which bunched the field up, and caused Alonso to drop to the tail of the pack once he served his penalty. Alonso crossed the line in fourteenth place, a minute behind race winner Mark Webber, setting the fastest lap of the race on the final lap, having changed tyres after a puncture. More accusations followed after the race, with Ferrari alleging that the FIA had not responded to their requests for clarification, and the FIA insisting that they had requested Ferrari to give back Alonso's position to Kubica and thus obviate the need for an inquiry.
For the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim, Alonso missed pole position by 0.002 seconds to Vettel, with Massa qualifying third. In the race, Vettel made a poor start and attempted to compensate by squeezing Alonso towards the pitwall. Seizing this opportunity, Massa overtook both of them, and entered the first corner with Alonso and Vettel in second and third places. Alonso then controversially overtook Massa and they crossed the line in that order to give Ferrari a 1–2 finish.
For the Hungarian Grand Prix, Alonso qualified in third place, behind the two Red Bulls of Vettel and Webber. As the lights went out, he passed Webber into second place, and then drew alongside Vettel on the outside going into the first corner. Alonso lost out to Webber at the pitstops, but got ahead of Vettel when the latter was given a drive-through penalty. He was able to hold off Vettel and finish the race in second place. After a promising start in Belgium, qualifying yielded a disappointing grid position of tenth place. When the race started, things went from bad to worse as Alonso was torpedoed from behind by Rubens Barrichello's sliding Williams. Alonso recovered to eighth before spinning out of the race in the closing stages.
At the Italian Grand Prix, Alonso claimed pole position ahead of Jenson Button, but trailed Button by the first corner. Alonso and Massa pursued the McLaren until it pitted. Alonso pitted the next lap, with a quicker stop allowing Alonso to return to the track wheel to wheel with Button, and narrowly edged him out into the first corner. He pulled clear to claim his 24th career win, his third of the season, and Ferrari's first win at Monza since 2006. As an added bonus, Alonso also claimed the fastest lap of the race, resulting in a F1 hat-trick (pole, win and fastest lap).
At the Singapore Grand Prix, Alonso took pole position ahead of Vettel, the McLarens of Hamilton and Button and the second Red Bull of championship leader Webber. When the lights went out, Alonso made a solid start and led Vettel into the first corner. Alonso soaked up pressure from Vettel for the entire race and crossed the line less than 0.3 seconds ahead of the Red Bull. Once more, Alonso set the fastest lap of the race in the closing stages. In Japan, Alonso finished third, behind Vettel and Webber, then won in Korea after Vettel retired with engine failure. He also scored his fifth fastest lap of the year, enough to give him the 2010 DHL Fastest Lap Award after a countback with Lewis Hamilton. In Abu Dhabi, Alonso entered the event with an eight-point lead, and qualified third. At the start of the race he lost a place to Button and then a strategic error by his team meant that Alonso spent the rest of the race stuck behind Vitaly Petrov, and lost out on world championship honours to Sebastian Vettel.
At the 2003 European Grand Prix, David Coulthard and McLaren managing director Martin Whitmarsh accused Alonso of giving Coulthard a brake test. This was in relation to a passage of racing towards the end of the race when Coulthard was trying to overtake Alonso, who was holding him up. Coulthard swerved off the track and into retirement during an attempted overtake. After talking to the drivers and viewing telemetry and video data, the FIA stewards decided that the incident did not warrant any "further judicial action".
At the 2006 Hungarian Grand Prix, Alonso was involved in an incident in which he brake tested Red Bull Racing test driver Robert Doornbos in the second free practice session. The stewards decided that Alonso's actions were "unnecessary, unacceptable and dangerous", and awarded him a one second time penalty to be applied to his fastest lap time in each of the qualifying sessions.
After a separate incident from the same race, when Michael Schumacher was asked whether he thought Alonso deliberately slowed down so that Schumacher had to pass him under red flags in practice, Schumacher replied, "You said that, I didn't."
In the 2006 Italian Grand Prix, after stewards ruled Alonso had potentially blocked Felipe Massa in Saturday qualifying and relegated him five places on the starting grid, Alonso stated "I love the sport, love the fans coming here — a lot of them from Spain but I don't consider Formula One like a sport any more".
In the qualifying for the 2007 Hungarian Grand Prix, while both McLarens were in the pits, Alonso remained stationary in the McLaren pit for a few seconds. This delayed the then provisional pole sitter and team-mate Lewis Hamilton long enough to prevent him from getting another 'hot lap' in. Alonso then went on to claim pole. McLaren boss Ron Dennis later said the team had got "out of sequence" when Hamilton did not as agreed allow Alonso past earlier in the qualifying session. He added that Alonso was "under the control of his engineer" when he was waiting in the pit lane. However, Alonso was subsequently given a five-place grid penalty and his McLaren team were docked the 15 constructors' World Championship points they would have earned in the race.
As a result of this investigation, it emerged that some team members within McLaren, among them Alonso, were aware of confidential information belonging to the Ferrari team. This information was commented on to Alonso by McLaren test driver Pedro de la Rosa who had also received information from McLaren chief designer Mike Coughlan. The email contained text suggesting that Alonso was surprised by the data and doubted its authenticity. According to the "spygate" related email exchanges between Alonso and de la Rosa, it was clear that Alonso knew about Ferrari's pit strategies in the Australian Grand Prix and Bahrain Grand Prix. Alonso finished 2nd and 5th respectively in those races. Ron Dennis told the FIA about the case during the Hungarian Grand Prix. Amid media allegations that Alonso threatened Dennis with reporting the team to FIA himself if he was not given number one driver status, Ron Dennis stated in a televised interview that there had been an argument, and that Alonso had said something in the heat of the moment but immediately apologised. This was when Dennis found out about Ferrari data and immediately informed the FIA. Pitlane sources have suggested, from published FIA stewards data, that an argument involving reporting the McLaren team to the FIA was prompted by the fact that there was no stewards' investigation regarding the qualifying pitlane incident until Anthony and Lewis Hamilton made a formal complaint on the Saturday evening; costing Alonso a five-place grid penalty and loss of Constructors' Points for the team. FIA then revealed that it had had knowledge of the Spygate case thanks to a slip made by Coughlan.
In what became known in the media as "Crashgate", Renault allegedly ordered Alonso's teammate Nelson Piquet, Jr. to crash at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix, causing a safety-car incident at a moment where Alonso would get tremendous benefit from his race strategy, putting him towards the front of the field, and giving him a fighting chance to win the race, after a number of opponents (Felipe Massa, Robert Kubica and Kimi Räikkönen to name a few) suffered. However, the FIA confirmed that no evidence had shown that Alonso had knowledge of the plan, and neither did many of the personal mechanics of both drivers.
In the 2010 German Grand Prix at Hockenheim, Alonso became involved in a controversy with team-mate Massa, as Ferrari were accused of using team orders during the race. The incident started when Massa was leading the race and Ferrari engineer Rob Smedley said "Fernando is faster than you. Can you confirm you understood that message?". Shortly after this, Massa slowed down and was overtaken by Alonso in what appeared to be team orders. Shortly after the race notable people of the senior personnel in Ferrari, Massa and Alonso were summoned to the stewards. The matter was then referred to the FIA World Motor Sport Council. and Ferrari were given a $100,000 fine but the result of the race was unchanged.
Fan phenomenon: Alonsomanía
|In the final day of the 2005 Brazilian Grand Prix,.|
Alonsomanía is the fan phenomenon about Alonso. In 2005 his success fuelled an increase in interest in Formula One in Spain. On September 25, 2005, a huge party began in Alonso's home town of Oviedo when he became the country's first Formula One World Champion and the youngest in the sport's history at the time. Alonso's fans are recognized by the light blue and yellow Asturias flags which are coincidentally the same colors used by the Mild Seven Renault team between 2002 and 2006. After his championship win, a widely-visited exhibition of Alonso's racing gear was held in Oviedo.
|1999||Euro Open by Nissan||Campos Motorsport||15||6||9||4||8||164||1st|
|2000||International Formula 3000||Team Astromega||9||1||1||2||2||17||4th|
|2001||Formula One||European Minardi F1 Team||17||0||0||0||0||0||23rd|
|2002||Formula One||Mild Seven Renault F1 Team||Test Driver|
|2003||Formula One||Mild Seven Renault F1 Team||16||1||2||1||4||55||6th|
|2004||Formula One||Mild Seven Renault F1 Team||18||0||1||0||4||59||4th|
|2005||Formula One||Mild Seven Renault F1 Team||19||7||6||2||15||133||1st|
|2006||Formula One||Mild Seven Renault F1 Team||18||7||6||5||14||134||1st|
|2007||Formula One||Vodafone McLaren Mercedes||17||4||2||3||12||109||3rd|
|2008||Formula One||ING Renault F1 Team||18||2||0||0||3||61||5th|
|2009||Formula One||ING Renault F1 Team||17||0||1||2||1||26||9th|
|2010||Formula One||Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro||19||5||2||5||10||252||2nd|