The fall and fall of Fernando Alonso

Fernando Alonso's crash at the Australian Grand Prix

Fernando Alonso will miss this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix after his 180mph crash at the Australian Grand Prix left him with fractured ribs and a partially collapsed lung

“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


Michael Schumacher ruled F1 from 2000-04 until Alonso, then driving for Renault, took back-to-back titles in 2005 and 2006. A new era of domination surely beckoned as the Spaniard headed for a title-winning car at McLaren…

A quickie divorce at McLaren (first marriage)


Angry at McLaren’s allowance for rookie team-mate Lewis Hamilton to compete with Alonso, the Spaniard blocked Hamilton in the pits at the 2007 Hungarian Grand Prix. Alonso’s relationship with the team broke down soon after and Alonso headed back to Renault after just one season

‘Crash-gate’ tarnishes Singapore win


Alonso managed to drag an unspectacular car to two wins in 2008, but the Singapore GP victory would ultimately be tarnished when it was revealed that Renault had instructed team-mate Nelson Piquet Jnr to deliberately crash to bring out a safety car to the Spaniard’s advantage. But a glittering period at Ferrari beckoned.

How the wins have dried up


After making his F1 debut in 2001, Alonso did not race in 2002 before his debut victory for Renault in 2003 at the Hungarian GP. His last victory was at the 2013 Spanish GP – 53 races ago

‘Fernando is faster than you’


Things started positively enough at Ferrari, with five race wins in 2010. But he did nothing for team relations once again when at the German GP Ferrari race engineer Rob Smedley told Felipe Massa over team radio: “Fernando is faster than you.” Massa responded by letting Alonso through moments later, but many people were outraged at the apparent team orders

On the brink of a third championship…


Victory at the Korean Grand Prix (pictured) in October 2010 meant Alonso led the world championship by 11 points from Mark Webber with the other Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel 25 points back with two races left. Surely a third title was his for the taking?

… but Vettel snatches the 2010 title to break Alonso’s record


It wasn’t to be as Alonso spent most of the season-ending race in Abu Dhabi stuck behind Renault’s Vitaly Petrov as Vettel won to break Alonso’s record as the youngest world champion

Renewing the vows with McLaren – but misery follows


Believing he would never win the world title again if he stayed at Ferrari, Alonso stunned F1 by returning to McLaren for the 2015 season just as the team took on woefully unreliable Honda engines. During the Japanese GP, Alonso vented his frustration describing the car’s performance as “embarrassing” over team radio


It got worse. After his McLaren broke down during practice for the Brazilian Grand Prix, Alonso sunned himself and joked that next time he would take his phone and sun lotion out on to the track to make the most of any future sunbathing opportunities


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