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Fernando Alonso: Navigating a Decade without F1 Victory



Fernando Alonso F1 Victory

Marking a decade since his 2013 Spanish Grand Prix victory, Fernando Alonso hasn’t added to his tally of 32 Formula 1 race wins for exactly ten years. Despite this winless streak, Alonso continues to rank among top-tier drivers, demonstrating how his career choices have significantly impacted his journey. Let’s explore his most memorable and forgettable winless seasons in Formula 1.

The timing isn’t entirely grim, considering his current position as the driver most likely to snatch any victories that Red Bull leaves on the table this year, thanks to the competitiveness of his 2023 Aston Martin.

Yet, it’s quite notable that Alonso has continued to rank among the top-tier drivers for this entire decade, even factoring in his hiatus from F1 in 2019/20 for other racing activities. This makes his winless streak a striking data point, and it serves as an indication of how some of his career choices have adversely affected him.

Alonso has experienced ten seasons without a win in his F1 career, starting with his inaugural year at Minardi, and including his second stint with McLaren that lasted four years. His winless period also spans his two-year tenure with Alpine, his final year at Ferrari, his second year at Renault during the 2004 Ferrari-dominated season (where his teammate Jarno Trulli did secure a win at Monaco), and the second year of his temporary Renault comeback in 2009.

While none of these seasons were poor in terms of performance, Alonso has acknowledged that some of them were not up to his usual standard. Yet, others were simply remarkable.

Exempting 2023 as it’s ongoing (although it seems clear where it would fall should we revisit this list), we present our selection of Alonso’s most memorable and forgettable winless F1 seasons.

Alonso’s years with McLaren-Honda were a blend of phenomenal performances against the odds and disgruntled antics that painted him as the villain, a mix of implausible qualifying laps, gripes about “GP2 engine!” over the radio, and appearances in trackside deckchairs.


The third year, 2017, stands out slightly as the peak of his personal performance, as Honda and McLaren began to gain some traction in the first season of the new aerodynamic regulations, and Alonso seemed rejuvenated by this hint of optimism.

Despite this, the car still suffered from a considerable straight-line speed deficit and initially very poor engine driveability, leading to Alonso’s retirement from nine races, primarily due to mechanical failures.

Nonetheless, his top-eight qualifying efforts in Spain, Hungary, Singapore, the United States, and Brazil were noteworthy. His sixth place in Hungary represented the pinnacle of his results, but Singapore held the promise of being a highlight, had he not been eliminated by the domino effect from the Ferraris’ start-line collision.

Along the way, Alonso’s superior performance effectively ended new team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne’s budding F1 career. He also took a break from a race to make a sensational debut at the Indianapolis 500 – the start of his ‘Triple Crown’ pursuit for broader personal success, which seemed to have a generally rejuvenating impact that also benefited his F1 career.

In 2001, driving for Minardi, Alonso’s debut season was in a car that was unequivocally and significantly the slowest on the grid. However, akin to George Russell at Williams in 2019, he refused to let that deter him from displaying his undeniable world-class talent.

With a four-year-old engine that was 130bhp less powerful and 30kg heavier than the leading competitors, the Minardi was substantially behind the pace of even the next slowest vehicles. However, Alonso managed to out-qualify several Arrows and BARs on multiple occasions.

His most impressive performances likely came at Imola and Suzuka. Following Alonso’s qualification ahead of both Benettons and a Prost at the Italian circuit, Minardi’s technical director, Gustav Brunner, couldn’t hide his admiration.


“Knowing the downforce and horsepower numbers of that car,” he commented, “it shouldn’t be able to achieve that lap time.” This was only Alonso’s fourth race.

In Japan, he finished ahead of Heinz-Harald Frentzen’s Prost, Olivier Panis’ BAR-Honda, and both Enrique Bernoldi and Jos Verstappen’s Arrows, entirely on his own merit. It was seemingly impossible.

Yet, even when his performances weren’t quite as striking, they were consistently brilliant in how closely he could match his qualifying pace during an F1 era defined by all-out racing between refuelling stops. He seemed to be able to maintain this extreme pace indefinitely, much like Michael Schumacher at the time. Watching from the sidelines, it was clear that he was pushing harder than most others, with the car teetering on the edge but expertly controlled.

Back in those days, I had the unenviable job of rating the drivers after each race, much as Edd does now for F1Lead. At the end of the season, when the scores were tallied, Alonso came in second, behind only Schumacher.

This ranking, for a driver who was regularly lapped, was met with some mockery. However, this came only from those who failed to appreciate the finer details. I defended this placement then, and I stand by it now: in his rookie season of 2001, I believe he was actually the second-best driver on the grid.

The 2014 season for Alonso was largely marked by the sour dissolution of his relationship with Ferrari. But what remains memorable is his dramatically sarcastic arm gesture of celebration as he finished an unimpressive ninth, purely on merit, in the season’s third race in Bahrain!

Luckily, the results weren’t typically that dismal. However, Ferrari’s tardiness in preparing its power unit package for the new 1.6-litre V6 turbo hybrid era resulted in him spending two-thirds of his racing laps that year running between fourth and seventh places. Despite the subpar equipment, he performed exceptionally well, as evidenced by his total domination over new teammate Kimi Raikkonen in both qualifying and race rounds (with a points record of 161-55).


Alonso was closest to a victory in Hungary, where he lost the lead towards the end to Daniel Ricciardo. The fact that Alonso, despite delivering an exceptional performance and the race unfolding perfectly in his favor in terms of opportunity and execution, still only managed second place says a lot about Ferrari’s condition.

Alonso’s aggressive driving style in a challenging vehicle was quite evident and largely explained his performance advantage over Raikkonen. It also helped Ferrari secure fourth in the constructors’ championship, which could have been much worse.

Indeed, off-track politics became a distraction and contributed to the end of Alonso’s relationship with Ferrari. This was partly due to Alonso overestimating his position, believing he had no viable alternatives, only for Sebastian Vettel to seize the opportunity to leave Red Bull early by exploiting a clause in his contract. However, these factors didn’t seem to affect Alonso’s on-track performances.

Shortly after his release from McLaren at the end of 2007, Alonso had secured an agreement with Ferrari for 2010. His two seasons back at Renault, a team that was but a faint echo of the one with which he’d clinched the 2005 and 2006 titles, were essentially just placeholders.

The team made strides in 2008, but their 2009 wide-nose car was a disappointment. Alonso at his peak was as exceptional as ever, demonstrated, for instance, by his stellar drive to the Singapore podium in an average Renault. However, it often seemed as if he was simply biding his time.

Indeed, there was nothing about his performances that distinguished him from a group of competent drivers in mid-range cars around him. His pole position in Hungary could be cited, but that was aided by fuel weight and was not faster than expected, given that he was making an extra pit stop.

For perhaps the only time in his career, there were no iconic Alonso ‘wow’ moments.


Alonso’s 2021 return season with Alpine reasserted his presence in F1, demonstrating he could still compete after a two-year hiatus and initiated his ‘second’ F1 career. Without this, it’s unlikely he would be with Aston Martin today. However, despite being a robust enough campaign to place him seventh in F1Lead’s top 10 drivers of that year, there were some rough edges exacerbated by a pre-season cycling accident that hindered his preparations.

This was predominantly evident early in the season. Alonso himself admitted it took him some time to push the car to its limits and ensure he was maximizing its speed. His race performance at Imola, his first time driving the car in wet conditions, is considered among the worst Sundays of his F1 career – it included an off-road reconnaissance lap, some first-lap off-roading, a detour at Villeneuve that cost him a few positions, and being overtaken twice by Mick Schumacher in a Haas!

However, after two scoreless weekends in Barcelona and Monaco, things turned around in Baku, especially during the two-lap sprint following a late red flag, during which he advanced from 10th to 6th place.

With the initial rust worn off, a solid relationship built with the Alpine team, and modifications to the steering to provide the feedback he needed, Alonso was near his best for the remainder of the year. His racecraft was excellent, and he played a pivotal role in teammate Esteban Ocon’s victory at the Hungaroring by fending off a fast-approaching Lewis Hamilton for 11 critical laps.

He also demonstrated his resourcefulness by taking advantage of an odd application of track limits rules to gain at Sochi with some pre-planned Turn 2 runoff exploitation.

His third place in Qatar was the highlight of the season, helping him secure 10th in the championship standings. It speaks volumes about the quality of Alonso’s career in F1 that an understandably shaky start to an otherwise strong year places this among his weakest seasons.

Alonso’s initial season with McLaren-Honda started late due to a concussion sustained in a peculiar testing crash, and the situation didn’t significantly improve once he began racing.


This was the low point of Honda’s reliability and performance, which was most notably demonstrated by Alonso and teammate Jenson Button starting from the back at Spa with a combined 105 grid penalty places.

In most races, it still seemed like Alonso was squeezing more out of a frankly dreadful package than most others could, though there wasn’t usually a significant difference between him and Button. He did manage to seize a fifth place in Hungary through opportunistic driving.

Given the multitude of problems and penalties that distorted performance comparisons, we have to partially rely on Alonso’s own assessment that this was one of his worst seasons in terms of personal contribution.

Towards the end of the year, he confessed that he had been caught off guard by the extent of McLaren-Honda’s mess and had mentally disengaged a bit, describing his driving as being in “economy mode” to conserve energy for more competitive cars in the future, and admitting that he should have performed better. While there was a touch of classic Alonso humor in those comments, they also seemed pretty accurate – and justifiable.

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