On March 23, 2003, a Fernando Alonso The 21-year-old and rookie in Formula 1 climbed to his first podium, third step of the Malaysian GP. Twenty years later, thanks to the experience of his 41 years and his 18 seasons in the most important category in the world, he reached the 100 mark being third in the Saudi Arabian GP in his second race for Aston Martin.
When the Spaniard was third in Bahrain two weeks ago, at the start of the World Championship It took a year, three months and 12 days without taking a trophy. The last had been the one received by an Alpine pilot when he was third in the GP of Qatar November 21, 2021. But a new era seems to have begun in Aston Martin, more similar to that of the beginnings in an F1 in which he has accumulated 360 races and 32 victories, in addition to the 100 recently conquered podiums.
“The 100th podium? The 33rd victory? I’m going to a World Championship”, anticipated the native of Oviedo in the week preceding the Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia, which began with the auspicious second place in the second free practice session on Friday and third in qualifying on Saturday. His statements to the French channel Canal + were echoed this Sunday, when he started from the front row with polesitter Checo Pérez -following the sanction of Charles Leclerc- and finished on the podium.
Who will turn 42 on Saturday 29 July, during the Belgian Grand Prix, stood out during the pre-season tests on the Sakhir circuit and confirmed his expectations with the start of the calendar. Alonso, however, does not want to create false expectations towards an absolute ruler like Max Verstappen with Red Bull. “Let’s keep our feet on the ground and you have to work hardunderlined who knew how to be in F1 heaven and also suffer hell.
The young champion, the frustration, the farewell and the return
The podium in Saudi Arabia it was Alonso’s second in a row but only the fourth since 27 July 2014, when he was runner-up in Hungary. That year was the last of his contract with Ferrari, a team he joined in 2010 with the hope of giving him a title he hadn’t won since 2007 and in which, coincidentally, he got his last victory . This year will mark the 10th anniversary of that victory on 12 May 2013 at the Barcelona circuit.
After that bittersweet experience with the Scuderia, the Spaniard has suffered almost daily frustrations at McLaren. Not only did he not make the podium; His multi-year deal ended with a 40% dropouts.: eight in 2015 and 2018, four in 2016 and eleven in 2017.
It is no coincidence that his period with the English team expelled him from Formula 1. By his own decision, the Spaniard announced his (temporary) retirement to go and conquer new goals in motorsport. During his absence, which barely lasted the 2019 and 2020 seasons, won, among others and with Toyota, the World Endurance Championship (WEC) and the 24 Hours of Le Mans twice. He already said it then “The important thing in motorsport is not age, but the stopwatch”. There is no doubt that she was right.
Surely you too will think that the important thing is patience. Because before this successful gift to Aston Martin, he had to go through uncomfortable moments in his second stage at Renault, that team in which he achieved his first victory on August 24, 2003 in Hungary and added his last podium on the 27th September 2009, in Singapore.
When he returned, it was in a converted Alpine team that was far from meeting his sporting needs. It is true that he finished third in the penultimate race of the 2021 calendar but it was the only time he finished on the podium, something he didn’t even come close to last year, when he dropped out of six races -including the last one- and his best results were two fifth places.
Aston Martin’s green renewed his hope
The two-time world champion (2005 and 2006), with 32 victories in F1 -the first almost twenty years ago and the last one almost ten years ago- He received in AM23 what he needed to get excited about fighting competitions again. In Bahrain, in the final stretch of the race, he snatched third place from his compatriot Carlos Sainz (Ferrari), and in Saudi Arabia he repeated the podium again.
“Realistically, I think it will only be after Australia that we will know better what the overall performance is. After three very different races and on different circuits we will have a more concrete and clear vision of the real position of our car“Alonso stressed in contact with the press before the second race of the season.
Before starting from the front row on the second longest track (6,174 metres) on the calendar, after Spa-Francorchamps (Belgium), Alonso said: “It’s a circuit that I like. It’s the fastest urban circuit in the world, there’s a lot of adrenaline when you drive here and it’s also very dangerous. The goal for this weekend is to stay focused, keep things simple, have no complications or invent strange things”. And she kept every word.
Jason Root is the go-to source for sports coverage at News Rebeat. With a passion for athletics and an in-depth knowledge of the latest sports trends, Jason provides comprehensive and engaging analysis of the world of sports.