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Fernando Alonso

Formula 1 driver

Fernando Alonso
Credit: LAT
Vital statistics for Fernando Alonso
BirthplaceOviedo, Asturias, Spain
Born29 July 1981
F1 debutAustralian Grand Prix, 2001
Driver number14
Current teamMcLaren Honda
Recent fastest laps
2017Hungarian Grand Prix
2016Italian Grand Prix
2013Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Fernando Alonso secured two titles with the Renault team in 2005 and 2006, becoming the youngest World Champion at the time, and breaking the dominance of Michael Schumacher and Ferrari. After a tumultuous year at McLaren, and a brief return to Renault, he found his way to Ferrari, hoping to end his career with the Scuderia. A third title eluded him, however, and he announced a surprise return to McLaren for 2015 and beyond.

F1 biography

Fernando Alonso’s very first taste of motorsport came when he inherited a home-made kart from his sister. He participated in Spanish kart racing until sponsors started to sit up and take notice of the young driver winning junior championships. Fellow Spaniard, team owner and former F1 driver Adrián Campos gave Alonso his first taste of single seater cars, and Fernando soon made the step up to some Spanish categories. He moved up to Formula 3000, becoming the youngest driver to race in the series, and won towards the end of 2000.

In 2001, Alonso was signed to the Minardi team, and brought his “youngest” record with him. He drove a typical first season with eight retirements and no points, but he had gained the attention of the Renault team and transitioned to become their test driver in 2002. He was promoted to a full time race seat the following year, and was on the podium by his second race. He took his first win in Hungary that year.

It wasn’t until 2005 that he repeated that race victory, winning in Malaysia, but it was the start of two successful championship campaigns that halted the domination of Ferrari and brought two titles to Renault’s door. Rather than stick with the French team to try for a third, Alonso moved to McLaren in 2007. Partnered with rookie racer Lewis Hamilton, the Spaniard wasn’t expecting the equality that was handed out, and despite a successful season on track, the relationships between driver and team soured quickly.

He made a swift exit at the end of the year, returning to Renault, who by then had lost a lot of their competitive form. After two years in the midfield, with only a couple of wins (one the controversial race-fixing victory in Singapore 2008), Alonso joined Scuderia Ferrari for the 2010 season, citing them as the team he had always wanted to drive for, and the squad he wanted to finish his F1 career with. He won his first race for the team, and has picked up more wins and podiums through the following seasons, but he’s not been able to put that championship-winning season together.

He finished second, behind Sebastian Vettel, in 2010, 2012 and 2013, but put a brave face on it. Known for his pace on track, his aggressive but fair driving style, and a tendency to get frustrated in slower machinery, Alonso has maintained that never-say-die attitude that sees him optimistic about the championship chances until the moment it becomes mathematically impossible. For 2014, he remained at Ferrari, partnered with Kimi Räikkönen, his first time driving alongside the Finn. They got on well as teammates but Alonso found himself frustrated with the underperforming car.

After becoming the focus of the driver market yet again, his 2015 season was under much scrutiny. He first revealed he would be leaving Ferrari, but remained quiet on his plans. Eventually it was confirmed that he would be rejoining McLaren, alongside Jenson Button. The decision was a surprise after the acrimonious split from the team, and particularly with Ron Dennis, but the Spaniard revealed he felt he had unfinished business and wanted to make amends for the difficult 2007 season.

Unfortunately, McLaren-Honda endured a terrible 2015 season, during which Fernando Alonso wasn't shy about complaining how embarrassing it was over the team radio. Nevertheless, he remained with the team for another season in 2016 which was marginally better, and for 2017 where he was partnered with rookie racer Stoffel Vandoorne.

Learn more about Fernando Alonso with the Pocket F1 Handbook.