Fernando Alonso has announced his retirement from the sport at the end of this season. After 4 torrid seasons at McLaren, the Spanish two time world champion decided that enough was enough and has decided to end his 17 year long career at the end of the 2018 season.
Alonso made his F1 debut for Minardi in 2001. He had been a Benetton test driver for one year by then. Alonso was also the third youngest driver ever to enter a Grand prix, at the age of 19 years and 218 days. On his debut at the Australian Grand Prix he outqualified teammate Tarso Marques by 2.6 seconds. quite the statement for a rookie in his first ever race. His perfomances with the Italian backmarker team created interest for this young talent all around the paddock. However, Flavio Briatore decided to keep Alonso as a test driver for the 2002 season. Benetton, who were owned by Renault from 2000, changed to the Renault name for 2002. Alonso was test driver for that season.
In 2003 much to the dissapointment of the British media, Jenson Button was dropped from the team for Alonso. In this season he became the youngest ever pole sitter at the Malaysian Grand Prix and the youngest race winner at the Hungarian Grand Prix that year.
2004 saw Alonso score podiums at Australia, Germany, France and Hungary. He finished the season 4th in the world championship. The following season in 2005 he was able to win the championship and in doing so he became the youngest ever world champion, aged 24 and 59 days. He then became a double world champion in 2006 which meant he was now the sports yougest double champion. A record that still stands to this day.
In 2007 Alonso moved to McLaren to try and become the first driver since Juan Manuel Fagio in the 1950s to win back to back world titles with different teams. However, his teammate went by the name of Lewis Hamilton. Both drivers finished the season on the same points tally, meaning that outsider Kimi Raikkonen took the world title by 1 point. Alonso swiftly moved back to Renault and made the first of a string of bad calls. Alonso won 2 races in 2008, however 1 of which was overshadowed by “crashgate” (which if you follow F1, you know is a story for another day.) 2009 was another year of pain at Renault, only getting 1 podium.
In 2009, Ferrari announced Alonso would replace Kimi Raikkonen at the team. However, Alonso would never win the championship with the prancing horse. He came 2nd in 2010, 4th in 2011, 2nd again in 2012. He was 2nd in 2013 and then 6th after the regulation change in 2014. Hee moved back to McLaren in 2015 where he would finish his career in what was a very uncompetitive car from 2015 all the way to 2018. During the 2017 F1 season, he raced in the Indy 500 where he retired with an engine failure. He raced at Le Mans in 2018 and won with Toyota.
Fernando Alonso’s F1 career was quite a fantastic one. Getting to drive for Ferrari is a fantastic achievement for any driver. He will always be considered one of the greats despite an unlucky career after 2007.