Fernando Alonso has said fans who decry his career choices have a “lack of knowledge” about the reasons behind his team switches.
Alonso has been in F1 for over 20 years, having made his debut with Minardi in 2001. Despite his career longevity and exceptional reputation, Alonso boasts a career win tally of ‘only’ 32 wins and two World Championships.
These figures, impressive though they are, don’t measure up to the potential Alonso appeared to have as he defeated Michael Schumacher to the 2006 title for a second consecutive title – only for his fortunes to dry up immediately afterward.
Fernando Alonso “wouldn’t change anything” about his F1 career
Moving to McLaren in 2007, arguably the quickest car of the field that year, Alonso was matched by rookie Lewis Hamilton with their in-fighting at the height of the Spygate scandal resulting in Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen pipping both to the title.
Returning to Renault in 2008 after winning his two titles with Enstone, the team were not the force they had been and Alonso was not a title contender again until he moved to Ferrari in 2010. While he put up strong title campaigns, he was powerless to stop Sebastian Vettel from winning four titles in a row.
Leaving Ferrari for a surprising switch back to McLaren to lead the Honda revival in 2015, the partnership over the next four years proved one of frustration and turmoil – so lacking in success that Alonso called time on F1 at the end of 2018 for a sabbatical of indeterminate length.
He came back in 2021, tempted back by an offer from Renault as they rebranded to Alpine, before switching to Aston Martin in what looked like, at best, a sideways move. But his move to Lawrence Stroll’s team was perhaps his first well-timed team switch since 2007 as the AMR23 has been one of the quickest cars on the grid, while Alpine have slipped down the order.
But Alonso says he has no regrets about any of the decisions he’s made during his lengthy career, saying it’s not possible to anticipate the performance level of a team too far in the future.
“I would not change anything,” he told media in Hungary.
“I don’t regret anything. No one has the crystal ball to know what the performance is of the teams in the following year.
When I left Renault [after 2006], which was the first decision, I joined McLaren and, in that season, we fought for the World Championship so, in terms of how competitive we were, it was a good thing, a good move.
“I joined Ferrari and I don’t think many of the drivers will reject an offer from Ferrari and join that team.
“We fought for three championships in the five years I was there. Then I joined McLaren-Honda, which was a project we all thought would be interesting and powerful – it just didn’t work. That can happen in the sport.”
No regrets for Fernando Alonso about stepping away from F1 for two years
Speaking of his two years away from F1, in which he raced in the Dakar Rally, IndyCar, and the World Endurance Championship, Alonso also said he didn’t regret not being in F1 for those seasons.
“I stopped F1 because I had too many things in my head, and too many challenges I wanted to try,” he said.
“It was a wonderful time in my career to try endurance racing, Dakar, and Indy, all of those with very good success as well.
“I’m happy for that and then I came back to F1 with what I always consider my family in Alpine, in Renault, and now the last decision which, in everyone’s opinion, was the worst one – to go to Aston Martin. It has been the best one, arguably, of my career!
“That just shows the difficulty of choosing teams and the lack of knowledge that everyone has at home.”