Fernando Alonso is one of the most experienced and successful drivers in Formula One history, with two world titles and 100 podiums to his name. But can he add another victory to his tally at the Australian Grand Prix this weekend?
There was an interesting stat posted by @f1statsguru on Twitter. For every driver that has reached 101 podiums, the 101st has been a victory…
The Spaniard, who drives for Aston Martin, has not won a race since 2013, when he was with Ferrari. He spent four frustrating years at McLaren, then took a two-year break from F1 before returning with Alpine in 2021.
Last year, he scored 81 points and finished 10th in the championship, helping his team to fifth place in the constructors’ standings. He also achieved his best result since 2014 with fourth place at the Hungarian Grand Prix.
This year, he has switched to Aston Martin, replacing Sebastian Vettel, who retired from F1. He has partnered with Lance Stroll, the son of the team owner Lawrence Stroll. The team has high ambitions to challenge for race wins and titles in the near future, after finishing fourth in 2020 and sixth in 2021.
Alonso has shown glimpses of his old form this season, especially in the last race in Saudi Arabia, where he qualified second and finished third, after a controversial penalty was overturned by the stewards. It was his first podium since 2014 and his 100th overall.
He also became the first driver to score a podium with four different teams (Renault, McLaren, Ferrari and Aston Martin) and the first to do so in three different decades (the 2000s, 2010s and 2020s).
However, he faces a tough challenge to repeat his success in Australia, where he has not won since 2006. The Albert Park circuit is a street track that requires good traction, braking and stability. It also tends to favour Mercedes and Red Bull, who have dominated the sport in recent years.
Alonso will also have to contend with a strong field of rivals, including Max Verstappen, who leads the championship by 18 points over Lewis Hamilton after winning the first two races of the season. Hamilton is aiming for his ninth title and his seventh win in Australia.
Other contenders include Sergio Perez, who won in Jeddah for Red Bull; George Russell, who inherited Alonso’s podium before losing it again; Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo, who have shown good pace for McLaren; and Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, who have improved Ferrari’s performance.
Alonso will also have to overcome a potential rule clarification from the FIA regarding the way penalties are served during pit stops. The issue arose after Alonso was initially penalised for lining up incorrectly on the grid, but then had his penalty cancelled after Aston Martin argued that they had followed the correct procedure.
The FIA said that they would address the topic at the next Sporting Advisory Committee meeting on Thursday (March 23) and issue a clarification ahead of the Australian Grand Prix.
Alonso has not given up on his dream of winning another title before he retires from F1. He has signed a multi-year contract with Aston Martin and believes that the team has the potential to fight at the front.
He has also shown that he still has the speed, skill and determination that made him one of the best drivers of his generation. He will need all of that and more to win in Australia and prove that he is still a force to be reckoned with in F1.