The lowdown on Fernando Alonso
2017: 15th place. Born: 29/7/1981.
When McLaren’s relationship with new engine supplier Renault made a bumpy start at 2018 pre-season testing, there was inevitable talk of “the curse of Fernando”.
Still yearning for his third world title, Alonso had made plain his displeasure at the lack of performance and reliability provided by the team’s previous partner Honda in the previous three seasons.
He had, after all, returned to Woking in search of a chance to end his long wait for another drivers’ crown, having been frustrated by Ferrari’s lack of improvement.
While Ferrari subsequently returned to contention as the Spaniard often languished among the back markers at McLaren, so Honda showed early signs of a surprise major uplift in fortunes with Toro Rosso at the pre-season tests.
While Renault the manufacturer may not provide Alonso with the firepower needed to follow up his consecutive titles with Renault the team in 2005-06, it should at least give him hope of his first podiums since 2014.
He could perhaps even clinch his first win since the year before that, especially if wet weather allows him to show the skills that many consider make him the finest driver on the grid.
Alonso's desire to become only the second driver to complete a coveted motorsport triple crown of the Monaco Grand Prix, Le Mans 24-hour and Indy 500 means he will again race in multiple formats this year. He’s also a fanatical cyclist, and has launched his own eSports racing team.
Though he won’t skip any F1 races this time – having missed Monaco in 2017 to try the Indianapolis experience – he will compete in all rounds of the World Endurance Championship with Toyota.
The 2018 season will illustrate Alonso’s vast experience on the F1 grid, as he is just seven races short of his 300th career start and only three podiums shy of a century.
Back in 2005, Alonso ended Michael Schumacher’s five-year reign as F1 world champion, and the following season became the youngest double titleholder – a landmark since beaten by Sebastian Vettel.
After an ill-fated and tempestuous season at McLaren, where he was rattled by rookie Lewis Hamilton and they both missed the title by one point, Alonso returned to Renault but could not repeat his success.
Alonso won on his Ferrari debut in 2010, and went desperately close to another title that season and in 2012, while being a distant second to Vettel’s dominant Red Bull in 2013, before ending his five-year stay at Maranello.
The return to McLaren coincided with the team’s much-heralded reunion with Honda, who had supplied the engines during a golden period of championship success in the late 1980s and early ‘90s.
However, saddled with shocking reliability and low power, Alonso was often left scrapping at the back of the field, and his three seasons with the Japanese manufacturer have yielded two of his lowest points totals in F1.