Fernando Alonso last won a Formula One race on 12th May 2013. It was his home Grand Prix in Spain when he was with Ferrari in which he battled through from 5th on the grid and included a stunning overtake of both Kimi Raikkonen and Lewis Hamilton around the outside of turn 3.
Since then life has not been too smooth for Alonso in Formula One. He moved on from Ferrari for the 2015 season only to find himself in a truly awful McLaren-Honda can that the worst the Woking team have put forth in a long, long time. The 2016 car is better but it is still a long, long way from those at the front.
With huge regulation changes coming in for the 2017 season it is a chance for McLaren to hit the rest button and leapfrog themselves back to the front of the grid where they, and Alonso, are so used to competing.
“I want to win everything l want to do in life. I count the days to the next grand prix and the next opportunity.” – That drive is what took him from lowly Minardi in 2001 to the youngest World Champion ever in 2005, breaking the 5 year stranglehold of Michael Schumacher and Ferrari.
While Ferrari have been far from a championship contender since Alonso left they have claimed race wins and regular podiums, Alonso has had just 4 points finishes with McLaren, but the hunger still burns within the double World Champion.
“I am on top of everyone to make sure they are not relaxed and they don’t take too many holidays because I don’t take holidays.”
The problem for Alonso is that much of the performance for next season is out of McLaren’s hands. The Honda power unit has lagged far behind the others and no matter how good the McLaren chassis or aero package is it will lag behind a reasonable package with a good power unit, just ask the Red Bull team.
The Spaniard only has one year remaining on his contract, after which the world could well be his oyster, or he may ride off into the sunset. But for a single point in 2007, four in 2010 and three in 2012 he would be a five-time Champion. Alonso is undoubtedly one of the top drivers of the post-Schumacher generation, maybe the best. He has never been in the dominant car and yet has won 32 Grand Prix and constantly pushed the fastest teams. It would be wonderful if McLaren could provide him with a championship contending car next season, but the odds are slim that they can close the gap and move past 6 or 7 other teams in the space of one winter, even with all the regulation changes that are coming.