Fernando Alonso, the “351 Glorious”

Fernando Alonso ROSLAN RAHMAN / AFP

At 41, the Spaniard broke the record for Grand Prix starts on Sunday, overtaking the Finn Kimi Raïkkönen on the clock, even if he did not finish the race in Singapore.

Fernando Alonso started a total of 351 Grands Prix, against 350 for Raïkkönen. However, there is some debate over these numbers, with the International Automobile Federation (FIA) taking a unit off Alonso and Raïkkönen as both drivers retired at the 2001 Belgian Grand Prix and did not take part in the second start of the race, given after an accident. This Sunday, in Singapore, the 2005 and 2006 world champion, then with Renault, did not finish the race on the Marina Bay circuit. On lap 22 of 61, he had to retire due to a mechanical problem on his Alpine.

The “Taurus of Asturias” is currently 9th in the world championship, behind his French teammate Esteban Ocon. In 2023, Alonso will continue to beat his longevity records (21 years and six months between his first Grand Prix in 2001 and the last one on Sunday) at Aston Martin, a team with which he signed for “several years”. On the other hand, his counter of victories remains stuck at 32 since his success in Spain in 2013, with Ferrari. His last podium, the 98th, dates back to 2021, with Alpine in Qatar. Back in figures on an extraordinary career.

1st Grand Prix in 2001

2001, the Spaniard’s odyssey begins. In Australia, the one not yet nicknamed the Asturian Bull arrives with the Minardi stable. At 19, he was the third youngest driver in history at the time (now 7th). In a poorly performing single-seater, “Nando” never finished in the top 10. But he convinced the Italian Flavio Briatore, Renault manager, to hire him in the French team. Reserve pilot in 2002, he became a holder in 2003.

1st victory at 22

From his second race with Renault, in Malaysia, he impressed: first of the 22 pole positions he obtained in his career, and first podium (3rd). Then the youngest poleman in history at 21 years and seven months, since overtaken by Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc, Alonso breaks another record of precocity: at just 22 years old, he becomes the youngest winner in Grand Prix, in Hungary . Since Vettel, Leclerc and finally Verstappen, at 18, have beaten him. No other victory in 2003 or in 2004 for Alonso, who finished 6th then 4th in the world for these first two seasons with the diamond brand.

Double world champion

It was in 2005 that Alonso entered the history of F1 and the hearts of fans. With seven victories, he won his first world championship title, ahead of Raïkkönen and Michael Schumacher, whose hegemony came to an end. At 24, Alonso became the youngest champion in history (since beaten by Lewis Hamilton in 2008, then Vettel in 2010). Just as victorious in 2006, he achieved the double with Renault and his era seemed launched. But Alonso decides to join McLaren, with whom he will finish third in the world, behind his teammate… the beginner Hamilton, and Raïkkönen, champion on Ferrari.

Five teams

Back with Renault in 2008 and 2009, it is the combination of the French team that Alonso has covered the most: 105 Renault era, and 38 Grands Prix with Alpine since his return to F1 in 2021 after two years of absence. . With McLaren, he drove 94 times, in 2007 then between 2015 and 2018, with a calamitous end to the course. He is getting closer to the title with Ferrari (96 races between 2010 and 2014), but is beaten by nothing by Vettel in 2010 and 2012. In 2013, he still fails in second place, this time far behind the German driver of Red Bull.

32 wins, 98 podiums

It is with Ferrari that Alonso will win the last of his 32 victories, as a symbol, at his home in Spain. His last podium, the 98th, dates back to 2021, with Alpine in Qatar.

24 hours of Le Mans

Frustrated at being at the back of the pack with McLaren and eager to make motorsport history, Alonso wants to win the “triple crown” – Monaco F1 GP, already in his pocket, 24 Hours of Le Mans and 500 Miles of Indianapolis . In 2018 (still in F1 in parallel) and 2019, he won the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the title of world endurance champion, with Toyota. But he fails in Indianapolis. His fake retirement also takes him to the dunes of the Dakar.

94.392 kilometers

Without pity with his opponents and teammates, outstanding defender, always sharp pilot at 41 years old, Alonso, it is also figures to make dizzy – or to explode a carbon footprint: 18,888 laps achieved for 94,392 km, two records, in 21 years and six months since 2001, the most important longevity in F1 between his first Grand Prix and his 350th. And it’s far from over. After the remaining six races with Alpine, Alonso will offer his services to Aston Martin from 2023 for “several years”. Now, F1’s Benjamin Button may have another record in his sights: to become the oldest driver in F1, overtaking Monegasque Louis Chiron, driver at 55 years and 9 months in 1955.

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