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Forza Fernando - Alonso's best drives for Ferrari

14 Jan 2015

For the first time in six seasons, Fernando Alonso will no longer line up in the red of Ferrari when the 2015 FIA Formula One World Championship commences in Australia in exactly two months.

In tribute to their partnership, which established Alonso as one of the sport's all-time greats even if it failed to yield world championship glory, we look back on a selection of his finest drives for the Scuderia - from commanding wins to against-the-odds victories and heroic defeats...

Victory at the first attempt, Bahrain 2010

It was the ideal beginning for Ferrari and Alonso: while the Spaniard was beaten to the front row by team mate Felipe Massa, a rapid start moved him into second and set up a typically dogged pursuit of Red Bull's race leader Sebastian Vettel. Alonso had trimmed the gap down to 1.5 seconds when Vettel suddenly slowed with spark plug problems. "I was planning to attack in the final ten laps, but luck gave me a hand," Alonso said afterward. Never one to turn down such an opening, he quickly picked off the stricken RB6 and, once out front, reeled off a series of fastest laps to dominate the final part of the race - and in the process secure his maiden win for Ferrari at the very first attempt.

The pride of Italy, Monza, 2010

Alonso had already won twice heading into Ferrari's home race, and added another accolade to his maiden season with the Scuderia by capturing pole on home soil - the first time the team had topped qualifying in 22 months. Unusually, he suffered at the start: jumped by McLaren's Jenson Button, his nose made contact with the rear of the Briton's car as they entered the first chicane, which in turn bounced Alonso into team mate Massa. After the initial stress, Alonso set about a relentless pursuit of Button, denying his rival any breathing space. The tactic worked: as Button pitted, Alonso produced a fantastic in-lap and Ferrari were equally adept in the pit lane. Alonso and Button emerged side by side, but the Spaniard had the inside line and drew ahead. Sixteen laps later, a delighted tifosi couldn't hold back their joy as Alonso handed Ferrari a home victory. A special day all round.

A wet-weather masterclass, Korea, 2010

Amid an epic deluge, and under the immense tension of a fraught title fight, Alonso was at his imperious best in Korea. The race started under safety-car conditions, was briefly suspended due to the abysmal weather, and then restarted under the safety car until Lap 17. The drama began almost immediately: Mark Webber slammed his Red Bull into the barriers, bringing out another safety car (the third of four) and promoting Alonso from third to second. "The situation on track and in terms of visibility was really precarious - I knew it would be an achievement just to stay on the track," he admitted. He did more than that though - while he lost second to Hamilton due to a delayed stop, he excelled in the mixed conditions and was therefore perfectly placed to snatch the place back when the Briton ran wide at Turn 1. Alonso then set about closing the gap to race leader Vettel, whose complaints about fading light suddenly transformed into dismay when his engine gave out on Lap 46. The win - and the championship lead - belonged to Alonso.

Alonso stuns in changeable conditions, Silverstone, 2011

Alonso claimed what would prove his only win of 2011 with a stunning drive in typically capricious conditions in Great Britain. Red Bull were his chief competition, with Webber and Vettel locking out the front row and leading from the start, as Alonso maintained his third position. He was among the first to switch from wets to slicks, but struggled initially to get temperature into his fresh rubber and dropped to fourth, behind Hamilton's McLaren. Rather than spark a collapse, however, Alonso was soon flying: he swept back past Hamilton and set off in rapid pursuit of the Red Bulls. Both had slow stops, and Alonso had closed enough to take full advantage by moving into the lead. Now in clean air, he was unstoppable: a series of blistering laps meant he pulled away from the chasing pack at a rate of a second per lap, which soon handed him an unassailable advantage.

Calm in the storm, Malaysia, 2012

"It was an incredible race! I would never have bet on this - to win with all the problems we have got is something quite extraordinary!" As Alonso himself attested, expectations at Ferrari were low heading into Malaysia. The team had been dogged by an inauspicious pre-season, while a low-key opening in Australia - and qualifying ninth in Malaysia - added further proof that they were off the pace. But as the rain fell on Sunday at Sepang, Alonso flourished. He was fifth by the end of the first lap, and - after an hour-long halt due to worsening conditions - continued to gain through a combination of incisive passes and clever strategy until he hit the front and began edging away. There was a final twist, however: the track began to dry, and Sauber's Sergio Perez started rapidly closing, his car far quicker than the Ferrari in the dry. Alonso was inch-perfect in defence, earning an unlikely victory in one of the most remarkable races in recent F1 history. It was also his 28th career triumph, moving him into fifth in the all-time victory list.

The tears flow, Valencia, 2012

Seven different winners from the opening seven races made for a remarkable, record-breaking opening to the 2012 season. And while Alonso would end the sequence at Valencia by becoming the first repeat winner, the extraordinary moments didn't let up. From 11th on the grid, Alonso was up to fourth by mid-distance through a combination of a rapid start and typical belligerence in attack. He jumped to third through the final pit stops, and then moved up into second with an outstanding pass around the outside of Lotus's Romain Grosjean at Turn 1 following a brief safety car. It would be the decisive move: moments later Sebastian Vettel retired from first, and Alonso moved into a lead he would not relinquish, retaking the championship lead in the process. What followed showed just how much it had meant: Alonso clambered out of his car to celebrate with the fans on the warm-down lap, draped in the Spanish flag, and then couldn't hold back the tears on the podium.

Attack is the best form of defence, Hockenheim, 2012

Alonso didn't have the fastest car in Germany - both he and Ferrari pointed that out post-race. Nor was he ever afforded breathing space by his rivals, whose constant pursuit meant the result was in doubt right up until the chequered flag. Neither fact deterred Alonso: from pole, he led every lap on his way to a third victory of the season that further stretched his championship advantage. This was Alonso at his unerring, methodical and dominant best - yet more validation that he could never be discounted. "Clearly, I didn't have a moment to relax but I think I was calmer than the team in the garage and on the pit wall and our fans sitting in front of their televisions," he reflected afterwards. "I always want to give 100 percent and work day and night towards this goal. I don't want anyone to [be] better prepared than me, or physically or mentally more motivated than me, and I always try and win this competition that runs alongside the one on the track."

Alonso takes command, China, 2013

In a race where judging when to hold back and conserve tyres - and when to attack - was essential, Alonso was masterful. A fifth-lap move on polesitter and race leader Hamilton was decisive, but his ability to eke out performance in between stops was equally crucial to setting up an eventual 10-second victory. "This has a special feeling because it was a tricky race full of action," was Alonso's verdict. "Qualifying third gave us the possibility of fighting for the top place. Along with that all the important factors worked perfectly, such as set-up, strategy, calling the pit stops and the stops themselves. All together it produced a win that wasn't easy at the end of a race in which we made the most of our pace."

First-lap heroics send home fans into raptures, Spain, 2013

"Even if this is the third time I've won a home race, the emotion is still very strong, as if it had never happened before," a jubilant Alonso proclaimed following a hard-fought victory on home soil. Once again his aggression and instinctive genius on the first lap set up the triumph: without room to attack into the first corner, Alonso decided to wait and use his KERS at Turn 3, where "I realised, after watching GP2, that it was possible to attack around the outside". Attack he did, picking off Kimi Raikkonen's Lotus and the Mercedes of Hamilton in one glorious swoop to move into third. That became second after the first stops, before Alonso snatched the lead around the outside at Turn 1. Victory was still not assured - Raikkonen was on a three-stop strategy to Alonso's four - until he finally settled the matter by scything past the Finn on Lap 39. From there he was able to cruise home to his 32nd career victory, moving him into fourth in the all-time list behind only Michael Schumacher, Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna.

Majestic even in defeat, Hungary 2014

It might not have ended in victory, but this was one of the drives of the season. In an incident-packed race, which started in damp conditions and was punctuated by two safety cars, Alonso once again hustled his way to a result he had no ostensible right to achieve. This time it was his smoothness and his brilliance in dragging every last ounce of performance from his tyres that underpinned his success. From fifth on the grid, Alonso led at mid-distance and again when Daniel Ricciardo pitted at the end of Lap 54 - 16 laps after Alonso had made his final stop. Alonso was already being hounded by Mercedes' Hamilton, but soon Ricciardo had joined to make it a three-way fight for the lead. On fading tyres Alonso held on, an unlikely victory seeming increasingly possible, until, two laps from the end, Ricciardo finally unlocked his defences to snatch the lead. While Alonso tried to retaliate, he also had his hands full defending from Hamilton, but against the odds he held on to take only his second podium of the season in second. "To do 31 laps at the end on used soft tyres was a great challenge," Alonso admitted. "After so many difficult races, we managed to get the most out of everything, also taking a few risks and second place seems like a win."