Two's yer lot
Melbourne 2007 and all is rosy in McLaren’s world. Bona fide Formula 1 superstar and two-times world champion Fernando Alonso is poised to push for title number three.
Alongside the cool-as-they-come Spaniard in his shiny new MP4-22 is the wide-eyed, cherub-faced rookie, McLaren’s oh-so-promising protégé Lewis Hamilton.
Set fair for a serious championship challenge, Fernando is not expecting too much in the way of trouble from his young sidekick.
Well that didn’t work out as planned, did it?!
Immediately snapping at his illustrious peer’s heels, Lewis shows little in the way of respect for Alonso. Outscoring him at Bahrain in race three; accusing the team of poor tactics and favouritism – when they ‘allow’ Alonso to lead home a McLaren one-two – at Monaco’s race five; securing his first win in Canada’s race six; and then having the bare-faced cheek to race and race hard, beating the Spaniard in a side-by-side duel in round seven at Indianapolis, USA.
Of course armageddon descends upon Woking pretty soon after that. Hamilton’s pace and ability eventually pushes Alonso into a rage of rusk-throwing antics the likes of which surprise many, such that his inevitable departure from the team at season’s end surprises no-one.
Fast forward – briefly – to now, and as ever hindsight is twenty-twenty. As he enters the final third of his F1 career, Fernando Alonso must wonder where it all went wrong.
Post-2007’s McLaren annus horribilis he spends two frustrating seasons back at Renault. The mechanics no longer like him and Alonso hates the lack of competiveness. Two race wins – of which one, Singapore ’08, is subsequently heaped in controversy – in two years is hardly what was expected.
2010 and the promised land beckons… Ferrari, ah, Ferrari. A match surely made in Heaven: the fiery Spaniard racing for the famously blood-red Italian superteam.
Alonso is poised to push for title number three…
Close, oh so close, but shockingly poor team tactics – combined with Red Bull and Sebastian Vettel brilliance – conspire against Fernando. Defeat snatched from the jaws of victory in a tragic display at the Abu Dhabi season finale.
2011 and Alonso is poised to push for title number three…
No chance. Adrian Newey’s RB7 rocketship disappears into the distance, delivering Sebastian Vettel to the top step again and again and again.
2012 and Alonso is poised to push for title number three…
Same result, I’m afraid. A blitzkrieg-like effort by Red Bull and Vettel in the second half of the season enables the German to sail past Alonso’s pre-summer points lead to win the prize yet again.
2013 and Alonso is poised to push... OK, you know the rest!
With no chance of winning the championship this year, Fernando is angling for a drive elsewhere and of course that means Red Bull.
Fat chance. Do you seriously think intelligent guys like Mateschitz, Newey and Horner are going to let the latin-tempered hot-head throw his Spanish fireworks around the happy ship ‘Red Bull’?
Sebastian Vettel, in an admirable moment of F1 honesty, made his feelings quite clear to the BBC following last Sunday’s Hungarian Grand Prix. When asked if he fancied Fernando as team-mate next season, the German’s answer couldn’t have been more revealing. “I prefer Kimi” will be listened to well by his paymasters in Salzburg and Milton Keynes.
Red Bull have no need to get sunk by the inevitable political war that would ensue were they to welcome Alonso on board.
Far better to politely decline his advances, leaving him to stew at Ferrari, while Raikkonen provides more than excellent support for Sebastian’s five-in-a-row title challenge.
It’s sad and disappointing that Fernando – in a few years time – will likely leave the sport with just the two championships (’05 and ’06) to his name.
A few wiser career choices and a little less hot-headedness in the face of intra-team challenges would surely have served him well.
Hindsight…. It’s a wonderful thing.