F ernando Alonso will soon be the one fourth driver in Formula 1 history to contest more than 300 grands prix. Rubens Barrichello leads the ranking with 323 starts ahead of Michael Schumacher (307) and Jenson Button (306). The 36-year-old Spaniard is celebrating his 300th anniversary in Montreal.
That is a bit premature, like so many drivers before him. Purists are pulling Alonso from the 2005 USA Grand Prix and the 2017 Russia race. The man from Oviedo did not make it onto the starting grid at either of the Grand Prix. 2005 in Indy because Michelin banned its teams from participating in the race. 2017 in Sochi because his McLaren Honda was stranded with an electrical fault at the end of the formation lap.
No matter how you count: Alonso will celebrate his 300th Grand Prix for historians in the next few weeks. The time has come at the Austrian GP. The birthday boy and his team didn't want to wait that long. They invited people to a ceremony in the Paddock Club in Montreal.
Old companions and colleagues also came. But not all. The stars Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel or Daniel Ricciardo were missing. Alonso is not popular with everyone. But highly respected. Many in the paddock still see the McLaren driver as the best driver of our time.
Unimaginable 300 Grands Prix for Alonso
A film should show why Alonso came to the The biggest one in history counts, even if his two world titles in 2005 and 2006 and his 32 GP victories do not immediately suggest. The Spaniard convinced with other values. He always drove to the limit, even in hopeless situations. He won races that no one else wins. He has one in the raceOverview like no other. He is considered to be the best development driver in the field. And he almost always gets the maximum out of his car. 'Some of my fifth or sixth places in recent years have been better races than my victories.'
When Alonso made his debut in a Minardi in Melbourne in March 2001 at the age of 18, he never thought for a moment, that 18 years later he will still be there and spend half of his life in Formula 1. “What a number. I couldn't even imagine it when Rubens set his record. And I still remember exactly what I was thinking back then. Must be crazy. I never last that long. ”
After an apprenticeship year at Minardi and a test season for Renault, Alonso really took off in 2003. For a while he was the youngest driver to take pole position and the youngest GP winner. For the anniversary, the milestones of a long career were remembered once again.
The first pole position in 2003 in Malaysia. The first GP victory in 2003 in Hungary. The nasty crash in Brazil in the same year. The duels with Michael Schumacher in 2005 and 2006 in Imola. The GP Japan 2005, when he overtook Schumacher on the outside of Suzuka's 130R curve. The first world title in Brazil. The 2006 Monaco victory. The 2010 Ferrari debut victory in Bahrain. The unexpected triumph in 2012 in Valencia from position 11 on the grid. The last victory in 2013 in Barcelona.
Formula 1 is predictable
The pole position in 2003 in Malaysia was a 'turning point in my life'. Alonso had arrived in the circle of the great. The famous overtaking maneuver against Schumacher in Suzuka was an “unforgettable moment”. Who overtakes a seven-time world champion in one of the fastest corners in the GP circus outside?
Schumacher at all. 'My two world titles are all the more worth because I won them against Michael.' It could have been three more, the McLaren driver looks back with a touch of bitterness. “I missed a few opportunities. sevenMore world championship points in the right place, and I would now be five times world champion. ”
Despite his self-love, Schumacher is the ultimate benchmark for Alonso too. The legacy of the German record winner fits Alonso's claim: “I never wanted to be just a good racing driver, I wanted to be a complete one. And hopefully the best in the world. “
Hardly anyone in the scene will write off the title of the most versatile driver. “I'm not the best qualifier, not the best in the race, not the fastest in the rain. But I'm at 99.5 percent in all disciplines. ”McLaren team boss Zak Brown sent a message to Canada:“ Your biggest race for me was how you kept Schumacher behind you in Imola in 2005. ”
Because it is foreseeable that Alonso will no longer be able to satisfy his record addiction with seven world titles, he has set himself a new goal. The triple crown. In addition, he still lacks victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the 500 miles of Indianapolis. Last year he was able to smell an Indy win. An engine failure prevented part two of the mission. This year, Alonso is the favorite at Le Mans. And frankly admits: “This is my most important race this season.”
Not without a swipe at Formula 1. It has become too predictable for Alonso in the hybrid era. “We have now done six races and we know how the next 15 will go. That's sad. No matter what I do, I'll end up between 7th and 12th place. Here in Montreal and at the last race in Abu Dhabi. And only if everything fits perfectly, then maybe I'll get on the podium like Perez in Baku. ”
Are these signs of resignation at the end of the season? Not at all, replies Alonso: “I signed a contract with McLaren for several years. I still have a lot ahead of me. ”Alonso has something to celebrate again by next year at the latest. He will then replace Barrichello as the record starter.