Even though it’s been common news for ages, today it was finally made official that Fernando Alonso will return to McLaren for 2015. His first stint at the team in 2007 is remembered for a whole host of negative reasons, but it wasn’t all bad. Here are five epic Alonso moments from his short first stint at McLaren.
His Monaco Win
Although Alonso had already won for McLaren in the second race of the season in Malaysia, his second consecutive win at Monaco was probably his finest. With Lewis Hamilton doing his best to ignore team orders and hold station, Alonso pushed hard all race and withstood pressure from his team mate for the entire race to take his second win of the season. No wonder the pair of them lapped all but one car and finished over a minute ahead of third placed Massa.
A battle with Heidfeld in France
A gearbox problem in qualifying left Alonso tenth on the grid and needing to battle through the field. After a few laps he came up behind Nick Heidfeld and the two engaged in epic combat, with Alonso trying everything to get past. Eventually he made a move stick with sensational overtake through the high speed Imola chicane.
An epic win at the Nurburgring
Torrential rain, Kimi Raikkonen missing the pitlane, half the field in the gravel at turn 1, Markus Winkelhock leading for Spyker…it seemed like the 2007 European Grand Prix at the Nurburgring couldn’t get any crazier…until it started to rain again near the end of the race. After both drivers had pitted for intermediate tyres, Alonso started reeling in Massa at a vast rate of knots and passed him for the lead around the outside of turn 5 with just four laps to go. During the overtake Massa hit Alonso, which made Massa unnecessarily angry and also prompted Alonso to make a cheeky gesture in parc fermé.
The Hungary Pit Delay
Ok, so this isn’t exactly an ‘epic’ moment at the weekend where the Spygate scandal reached it’s climax, but it does highlight the genius of Alonso. The whole thing kicked off when Hamilton initally ignored a pre determined team order to give Alonso track position in the ‘fuel burn’ phase of qualifying, putting both drivers out of sequence for their stops. To pay him back, Alonso waited in the pit lane for a few seconds after putting on fresh tyres, which was just enough to allow him a final lap but not Hamilton. Although Alonso took pole he was later penalised for his actions, but it was a fantastically quick and well judged piece of thinking.
A Turkish Beard
In his Renault days Alonso was the young, shaggy-haired giant killer who’d finally put an end to years of Schumacher and Ferrari domination, but when he joined Ron Dennis’s corporate McLaren he was clean shaven and had a new haircut. The Hungarian Grand Prix was the latest in a long line of events at McLaren which Alonso felt were being plotted against him. To get even with the team, Alonso paid Ron Dennis the ultimate insult: he showed up to the Turkish Grand Prix…with a beard.