It Took Me 10 Years to Feel Like I Belong in the ‘Strange’ World of F1: Fernando Alonso

Published 08/12/2021, 10:15 AM EDT
IMOLA, ITALY – APRIL 18: Fernando Alonso of Spain and Alpine F1 Team looks on in the Pitlane during a red flag period during the F1 Grand Prix of Emilia Romagna at Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari on April 18, 2021 in Imola, Italy. (Photo by Peter Fox/Getty Images)

It’s been 20 since Fernando Alonso made his Formula debut at the 2001 Austrian Grand Prix. The fresh-faced Spaniard drove for Minardi in his rookie season. But the two-time world champion initially did not deliver the results everyone expected from him.


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Alonso, while looking back at his 20-year journey in F1, mentioned he was not fully confident when he made his debut. He stated he felt did not belong at the grid and took his time to settle in the sport.

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I was thinking that Formula 1 was not my place: Fernando Alonso

As reported by Motorsportweek, the two-time world champion mentioned he was very stressed before his opening race in Australia. He could not believe that he was on the same grid as Michael Schumacher and Mika Hakkinen.

“Probably… in 2012 or 13. Yeah. To be honest, after 10 years. I was coming from a modest family, and all the Formula 1 environment it was… not fake, but it was a strange world for me.” said Alonso when he was finally comfortable in F1.

Formula One F1 – Austrian Grand Prix – Red Bull Ring, Spielberg, Styria, Austria – July 1, 2021, Alpine’s Fernando Alonso during the press conference FIA/Handout via REUTERS

“It was a shock always when you arrive into Formula 1, as there are many differences compared to the younger categories,” said Alonso.

“ [Being] 19 years old, being the first time there, it was a shock for sure. I was thinking that Formula 1 was not my place, probably. I was coming from a very small town in Spain, with no Formula 1 background or anything.

Wanted to be World Champion one day and to achieve the maximum, but it was like a very optimistic dream.” said Alonso.


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Two-time world champion on his journey with Renault

Alonso mentioned it was important for him to perform well in his debut season to impress Renault. He also explained that he was always linked with the French outfit, so a move to the team was inevitable.

“From the very beginning I was linked with Renault, and this team obviously means a lot to me, and for my career,” said Alonso.

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES: Fernando Alonso of Spain and Renault Sport F1 poses for a photo with his 2005 F1 title-winning Renault R25 and members of the Renault team from the same year during the F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi at Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

“And even if it changed a lot in 20 years, it remains the same DNA it’s a team that is a bit more of a family environment than a team. It is very serious about performance, and professionalism, but in a relaxed environment.


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So that’s the same now. I didn’t know how I’d find the team in 2020 after 10 years [away] but I found the team exactly the same.” said Alonso.

Fernando Alonso went onto win two titles with Renault in 2005 and 2006. Despite having two decades in the game, Alonso is still a formidable force on the grid. He’s had several notable moments across his storied career that fans continue to look back fondly at.


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Tell us your favorite Alonso moment in F1.




Devang Chauhan

342 articles

Devang Chauhan is an F1 author at EssentiallySports. Having completed his graduation in Journalism and Mass Communication, he has a keen eye for writing engaging and detailed articles on F1. Previously a writer for Sport Social's 'Chase Your Sport' Magazine, Devang has been a ardent follower of the sport for over a decade and has attended two editions of the Indian Grand Prix.