Team: Ferrari World Champ Titles: 2 GP wins: 29 Pole positions: 20
It may be a cliche to talk about fiery Spanish blood and it would be a mistake to apply a cliche to Alonso; but it is a fact that on the track Fernando is a true Spaniard, in and out. A determined competitor and a passionate driver, he chased his dreams, swapping teams and teammates, making some enemies and bad fame along the way. As it is with the Spanish, you can love them and hate them at the same time; but whichever way you might be swayed, you can’t deny the shine of Alonso’s star.
This star has burst aflame again recently, after his spectacular win in Valencia at the European Grand Prix, having started the race from 11. position, which established him as the current favourite of the season – the first out of the eight GP winners this year to stand on the highest podium for a second time. At 111 points, 20 ahead of Red Bull’s Mark Webber, he now tops the driver’s classification; and with the British race coming up – the only one that he won in 2011 – he might be up for a three-time strike that could gain him a significant lead .
The recent result certainly satisfied the team, which is still lagging behind in the Constructors’ Championship, now in 4. place; but even more so, it must have been an euphoric spectacle to the Spanish public in Valencia, adding to Spain’s win over France in Euro quarterfinals the night before. However, as much as he might be loved and admired by his devoted fans, the Spanish Champ has had some legendary fall-outs in his pursue of victory.
Having become the youngest ever title holder at the age of 24 with Renault in 2005 (before the arrival of Hamilton and Vettel) and having defended the title, Alonso moved to McLaren where he challenged all the competitors, including his teammate, Lewis. Although they ended the season with the same score, the relationship ended on bad terms, due to the Spygate Affair: it was alleged that several members of McLaren, including Alonso, were aware of Ferrari’s pit strategies and, as a consequence, the Spaniard was to threaten to report the team to the FIA if not given the primary driver status; in effect both him and the team were given grid and point penalties.
After returning for two more bumpy years to Renault, in 2010 he found himself in Ferrari, where he has been proving his worth, numerously placing the team on the podium despite a car notably inferior to their leading opponents Red Bull and McLaren. Clearly the favourite of the team, also here he doesn’t avoid controversy, with the example of the German Grand Prix in 2010, when his teammate Massa received a radio message: “Fernando is faster than you. Can you confirm you understood this message?” – as a result, the Spaniard won the race, the team was fined 100,000 Euro and team orders were banned by the FIA until the current season.
With some driver contracts approaching their due date at the end of this year, there has been a lot of speculation over who might be joining Fernando in Ferrari, seeing the progressing under-performance of his teammate Felipe as well as some raising talent among the younger drivers, such as Sergio Perez. Hamilton was seen as a potential candidate for the spot, however, Alonso has made it quite clear that such deal would not work out.
Without a doubt Fernando will keep on fighting for his third career gold with as much passion and determination as he has for the last 11 years, which will surely make for a thrilling performance – with some intra- and inter-team drama along the way.