Ahead of his history-making 350th Formula 1 start at the 2022 Singapore Grand Prix, 41-year-old Fernando Alonso looks back on a legendary career that began two decades ago.
The F1 veteran began his career on Sunday, 4 March 2001 at the Australian Grand Prix, since that day he has started 349 times, finishing on the podium 98 times, on 32 of those occasions as a winner.
Here are the highlights in his own words, an incredible 7,882 days since he climbed into the cockpit of a Minardi, starting 19th on the 22-car grid in Melbourne
Alonso’s best F1 race? I will pick Valencia 2012, it meant a lot for me. I started 11th After qualifying and then, winning in Spain, I think it was my best race in terms of performance.
Best qualifying must be Hockenheim 2012 – his last top spot start in F1: “It was a wet qualy we were not really performing. It rains before qualifying, heavily so we were with extreme wet tires which are normally tricky to switch on. I was very proud of that and I knew that could be have been a poor position. And I think it was my best lap in qualifying.
Best overtake? “I will pick Michael Schumacher Hungary 2006, I think it was the first three or four laps of the race we’re overtaking cars but then we arrive at Michael, and Michael always had a completely different car to overtake.
“He was the legend and you always try to invent something because he will cover all the possible doors so to pass on the outside he didn’t expect that and I was happy with that.”
Toughest competitor? “Michael was a very tough competitor. And not only on the track, also off track, but he was also very clever, very always into the point. So focussed, and the discipline that Michael had for the sport, the dedication, it was a truly an inspiration for all of us.”
“As a competitor, he was probably the worst one you can have because he will always deliver something special in the moment of truth, you know, so he was an incredible competitor. And I’m very proud of the races that I did with him.”
Best teammate Alonso has had? “I will say Jensen is a very strong competitor as well, but always, you know, racing very hard, but very fair with you. So there are people that you can trust. So people that you trust less. And Jensen was outstanding on that, you know, you can race as hard as you want. But always that you can trust him you could trust. So that was very, very impressive.”
Best performance for Alpine since his comeback? “I’m probably proud of Qatar last year because he was the problem. And it was a podium where there were not many DNFs in front of us. The Red Bulls, Ferraris, and Mercedes were off at the front but we achieved this podium with our own performance. So I was happy with that.
Best performance in a Minardi by Alonso? “I need to really think about this. My memory is not that good. I remember how can I think, it was my birthday. That’s the thing that I remember. And I think we finished tenth. Something like that so I don’t know why it can comes to my mind now… Hockenheim, so it has to be for something
Best mate in the current F1 paddock? Kimi Raikkonen! But he’s not in the paddock anymore, I know. For me he will always be there, he’s is a permanent presence. He was good fun, obviously. Right now in the paddock itis Daniel… Ruben’s another good guy, good fun and such a good person. I think Daniel from the current ones.”
Best place to visit on the F1 calendar? “Las Vegas next year. I’m looking forward so much, but I have to pick Japan, I love Suzuka, I love the fans there. I’m a very big fan of Japanese culture. I love Tokyo the days before or after the race. So Japan probably is my favorite destination.
Funniest moments while racing on track? “For sure they’ve been a few of those. I normally used to enjoy it when Flavio was talking on the radio, that was quite fun. I think at Ferrari, I had very good times as well. You know, they are Italian, Spanish, we were much in a lot of sense of humour. So, but I can pick one one particular moment now.
Best moment of Alonso’s career? Probably still get to come and then I can enjoy it and end the last chapter here in F1 with a good memory. So far, I have two F1 championships [2005 and 2006] So those two Brazil races, they will be always there.
“The whole journey has been pretty amazing, to work with incredible people so many talented engineers, designers, so clever. And as a driver, obviously, it’s a pressure to learn from everybody and to grow because when you get to F1 at the age of 19 you’re a kid, amazed by everything there is here.
“Now, at the age of 41, I feel so privileged and lucky to have spent more than half of my life inside this paddock. So I’m very grateful,” concluded Alonso.
Celebrating a titan of the sport 🙌
The one and only, Fernando Alonso, breaks the record for the most starts in Formula 1