Fernando Alonso on the podium: 2674 days later

The Qatar Grand Prix granted even the most nostalgic fans some sweet surprise: after 2674 days, Fernando Alonso is finally back on the podium.

The Asturian seems unstoppable and after seven years he is back on a Formula 1 podium for his 98th time. What makes the success count, even more, is how it was conquered through pure pace, something the Spaniard doesn’t seem to lack despite his 40 years of age.

Moreover, Alonso becomes the second driver for the interval between two podiums (7y, 3m, 25d) behind Alexander Wurz (7y, 9m, 11d). However, Fernando now holds the record for the biggest interval between two podiums considering races disputed (102), beating the precedent of Nick Heidfeld.

The Spaniard has now shown himself capable of reaching the podium with four different constructors (Alpine, Ferrari, McLaren, Renault9, joining a star-filled list with drivers such as Fangio, Stewart, Fittipaldi, Prost, Piquet, and Vettel. The latter has also been overtaken by Alonso to become the fifth driver for podiums achieved in different circuits (26).

All these records aren’t important out of pure math but because they show the incredible brilliancy of Fernando Alonso, a driver too often underrated by fans. Looking back at the past, it’s easy to remember many criticizing Alonso for deciding to come back to Formula 1 in 2021.

Alonso’s brilliant performance comes from a particular enjoyment of the Qatar circuit. The Spaniard admitted to Sky F1 on Saturday: “I told the team ‘If you put in enough fuel, I could be all night long driving here’…The Qatar track is unbelievable for Formula 1 cars. I think the high-speed combinations, the long corners, you have everything here. Being at night as well, I know it should be no big difference but the track is quite cool at night and that helps a lot the overheating on the tyres, so you feel the grip, you feel you can drive the car, you don’t need to save the tyres in any of the corners and that’s a good feeling for a driver.”

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The excitement to drive the car, even after more than 300 Grands Prix, brought Alonso to fight for the podium as if it was the first. After the race, the Asturian told Formula 1: “Yeah, unbelievable. Seven years and finally we got it. We were close a couple of races but not enough. Sochi was the last possibility and here today [we did it].”

The crazy idea to even possibly win the race wasn’t far away from Fernando: “Honestly, I thought about leading after lap one. I thought with the red tyre, I could have a go on Lewis, but I couldn’t. Then with Checo, it was very close at the end. But I’m so happy for the team. Also, Esteban P5, so a good Sunday.”

Thanks to the team weren’t avoided, as Alpine showed an important improvement in Qatar: “We planned a one-stop from the beginning, but we never knew how bad was the wear and the degradation. It is a new race for everybody. But yeah, I think it was quite well executed the race. The pitstop was fantastic. The team was great. The reliability of the car is superb, and you know they deserve it.”

Finally, as of today, not only did Fernando Alonso answer all his sceptics and remember he deserves his place within the French team and at the pinnacle of motorsport but also proved that age sometimes really is just a number.

Headline Image: Formula 1

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