Considering his father’s background, it was inevitable that Fernando Alonso would enter the glamorous world of F1 with a bang. Fernando’s father is an explosive expert that initially had dreams of his daughter being the race car driver. But because she showed no skills in speed, Fernando ended up inheriting her kart. He was 3 yrs old.
23 years later, Fernando Alonso holds the distinction of being the youngest ever world champion, an incredible feat that he has achieved twice – back to back. He started young and never stopped progressing, which is why he shrugs off the novelty of being the youngest driver to do this or that. “I entered motor sports at a very young age, so I’m used to being the youngest on the grid in every event I have competed in. I’m happy to be the youngest driver to win a race, the youngest world champion, the youngest driver and the first Spaniard to get pole position in F1, but, to be honest, it is something I have already gotten used to,” Fernando confesses with no disrespect intended to the honor of his achievement, during a candid chat we had in Brazil.
“My father has always instilled good values and education into me, and I shall always thank him for it. I knew how to value what I had, the effort they had to make at home, because we are just a normal family. A humble one. My parents both worked, and I spent a good part of their wages on my karting; the only way to “pay” for their effort in some way was to win races and make the sport worthwhile. Seeing my father’s face after every win was the best reward he could give me,” Fernando says with deep sincerity in his tone.
Fernando Alonso came under the world spotlight back in 2001 with the Minardi team, but his brilliance was camouflaged by an unreliable and painfully slow car. Only those with a keen eye could spot the talent that would later re write the history books and put an end to the scarlet red bloodbath that dominated the podiums of Formula One race tracks around the world.
His manager, Flavio Briatore, saw this potential and enlisted him as a test driver for Renault in 2002 after seeing him drive an incredibly strong season that saw him out-qualify his team mate by 2.6 seconds on his very first race and end in Suzuka with what was described by Alonso’s team principal, Paul Stoddart, as “53 laps of qualifying” He only finished 11th place, well out of the points, but enough to put him ahead of more experienced and better funded teams and on the radar of the big guns of F1.
In his first season with Renault in March of 2003, Alonso shocked the world by sticking his car on pole. “Pole position in Malaysia was very exciting. Even better than being on the podium and everything else.” Those that matter in the sport have been quoted on his website as saying, “That pole was the beginning, an exciting moment. Winning in Hungary was more important, but Malaysia showed that he was one of the greats. He got into a car, and in the second race says here I am. He joined the stars’ club”.