Of late in Formula 1, where much of our attention is with the Lewis vs Max showdown at Silverstone, which yielded a controversy-marked win and heartbreak for Red Bull fans, we haven’t quite been focused on what Fernando Alonso has gone on to achieve.
Rather, what Alonso has been able to pull in, throwing a few punches down in an absolutely packed midfield contesting starkly with the two Alpha Tauris, Alfa Romeos, and the Aston Martins.
It’s not for nothing that Fernando Alonso is called the ‘Samurai’ of Grand Prix Racing.
Having not sat behind an F1 car for two full years, 2021 has seen the Oviedo-born star, a former double world champion, fighting without having lost an inch of speed or quintessential grit.
It was a painful sight when at the end of the 2018 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the former McLaren driver bid adieu to the sport, but not after performing the farewell doughnuts in a recalcitrant machine that neither helped his form nor the team’s cause.
Yet, the fan who’s into predicting the future events may just have wondered whether Alonso will return to where he belongs one day eventually; the highest-form of single-seater Grand Prix racing.
And he did return, two years later, albeit without having lost the quintessential zest for fighting on the track, a driver from whom stealing an inch of space on the tarmac is akin to an experience as testing as being embroiled in a bloodbath.
It’s not hard to see how.
The same Esteban Ocon, who usurped Fernando Alonso in the season-opener at Bahrain, even as the Frenchman gathered a lowly thirteenth in comparison to Alonso’s DNF, is struggling to rise to the occasion where the last few Grands Prix are concerned.
So let’s have a quick look at what makes Fernando Alonso an eternal battler, the man in whose dictionary the term ‘quit’ actually doesn’t exist but ‘comeback' certainly does.
In the recent round at Silverstone, Alonso gathered a fighting seventh, to teammate’s ninth.
Previously, in the two rounds at Spielberg-bound Austrian GP- Fernando Alonso fought off massive midfield competition to steal a solitary point for his Alpine team courtesy a tenth when Ocon found none.
One race before, in the Steiermark GP, he gathered another competitive finish courtesy P9, while teammate Ocon struggled with a fourteenth.
And then, at the most testing tracks on the calendar thus far, the Baku-bound Azerbaijan Grand Prix, Fernando Alonso gathered a best-place finish of P6 while Ocon simply failed to finish the race.
That being said, what classifies Fernando Alonso as a bull-fighter, one who compresses buoyant challenges into something timid is the fact that he just doesn’t give up.
A great example of which one learnt back at the 2018 Azerbaijan GP, where thanks to an opening lap scramble between Raikkonen, then with Ferrari and Ocon, then with Force India, down at Turn 2 (Baku), Alonso’s McLaren ran over massive debris sprinkled on the track. This resulted in him enduring two punctures.
Yet, the sheer skill with which the Asturias-born driver limped into the pits for a fresh set of rubber, post which he somehow pulled that vapid McLaren into a P7 is the stuff Formula 1 legend are made of.
Also, not to forget, the kind of performance that to anyone would seem like an urban legend.
Overtaking five cars in the final ten laps on a track where passing another machine is as hard drilling nails on a wall with bare hands, Fernando Alonso drove a magical drive.
A year before, whilst driving in the MCL 32 at the Hungaroring, it wasn’t Red Bull, Ferrari or Mercedes that set the fastest lap, but Fernando Alonso, precisely on the penultimate lap (70-lap event), the Spaniard pulled out a rabbit from the hat, in going supremely quick at 1:20:182.
It’s Fernando Alonso Diaz, who unsurprisingly has a museum in his honour; a driver none of the past greats are divided in calling a Formula 1 ace, but one who should’ve got, at least, earned more than his current share of F1 wins, 32!
Time to go further up, El Nino!