“The raw statistics are impressive enough – sixth in the all-time winners’ list, second in total points, third-highest number of podiums in history. But it’s what’s behind the numbers that is most impressive about Fernando Alonso.
“He has achieved those feats despite hardly ever having the fastest car – never definitively, and only twice arguably in his entire career.
“At 34, and coming up for three years since his last win, the Spaniard remains the drivers’ driver. Probably not quite the fastest on one lap; but, all round, arguably the best and most complete on the grid.
“Remorseless and relentless, Alonso is one of the very few who can be relied upon to get the best out of whatever car he is given to drive, in whatever circumstances – who gets closer to the limit more often than probably anyone else.
“He has “only” two world titles. But over his career Alonso is eight points short of being a five-time champion after narrowly missing out in 2007, 2010 and 2012.
“One of those times was his own fault – he had a meltdown at McLaren alongside Lewis Hamilton in 2007. But the other two were definitely not. And four titles would be about what he deserves.
“In 2012, he put together one of the greatest seasons by any driver ever.
“Some of his victories – such as winning in Malaysia that year in a car that could not qualify in the top 10 at the previous race – no other driver would have achieved. Some of his overtaking moves defy belief.
“Memories and achievements like that are indelible, no matter how his career ultimately comes to an end.”
Andrew Benson, Chief F1 writer
Double world champion at 25
A quickie divorce at McLaren (first marriage)
‘Crash-gate’ tarnishes Singapore win
How the wins have dried up
‘Fernando is faster than you’
On the brink of a third championship…
… but Vettel snatches the 2010 title to break Alonso’s record
Renewing the vows with McLaren – but misery follows
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