|Born||29 July 1981|
Oviedo, Asturias, Spain
|Formula One World Championship Statistics|
|Team||ING Renault F1 Team|
The 2008 Formula One season was Fernando's seventh season in Formula One. He drove for ING Renault F1 Team after leaving McLaren. During this season he won 2 races, once of wich was the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix where his team-mate Nelson Piquet, Jr crash so Alonso could win. He finished the season in 5th place with 61 points.
Alonso was linked with several teams for the 2008 season after his split with McLaren. Renault, Red Bull, Toyota and Honda were all suggested in the media. Renault's Flavio Briatore stated that he would welcome Alonso's return to the French team. On 10 December 2007, Alonso signed a two-year contract to drive for Renault alongside Brazilian driver Nelson Piquet, Jr. for around £25 million.
In the first two rounds of the 2008 season, the Renault was not as competitive as it had previously been. Alonso finished fourth and eighth in Australia and Malaysia respectively, fuelling rumours that Alonso would leave the team because he was disappointed with his Renault and was either moving to BMW Sauber, Honda or Toyota. BMW boss Mario Theissen was keen to get Alonso to replace Nick Heidfeld in order to get the team their first win. Honda rumours started when Alonso said in an interview that he felt there was something about Honda and he wanted to drive for them in 2009 and switching to Ferrari in 2010. Toyota said they were eager to give a top driver their seat. But the most likely place that Alonso would go was to replace Felipe Massa at Ferrari in 2009, especially in light of the general belief that there was an "out clause" in Fernando Alonso's contract with Renault which would give him the freedom to move to another team for the next season should he be able to secure a deal. However Ferrari president Luca Cordero di Montezemolo stated that Massa's seat in the team was secure and would stay that way until the end of his contract in 2010. Räikkönen was also given a two-year contract extension to partner Massa until the end of 2010, essentially closing the door on Alonso for a possible move to Ferrari. In 2008, Alonso denied the "out clause" rumour.
In the Bahrain Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton ran into the back of Alonso's Renault, heavily damaging the rear wing of the Spaniard's car, as well as his own nosecone. Stewards did not seek to investigate the incident but critics alleged he braked (or did not accelerate as expected) in front of Hamilton causing Hamilton to crash into him. The telemetry data from Alonso's car proved these accusations to be wrong. Hamilton himself stated "I was behind him, and I moved to the right, and he moved to the right and that was it – a racing incident I guess". It was later revealed by McLaren that Hamilton's front wing, which was damaged when he hit Alonso earlier in the race, had broken seconds before the impact and has been identified as the cause of the crash. Alonso started the Spanish Grand Prix with promising pace, qualifying on the front row in second place behind Kimi Räikkönen even though he had a light fuel load. He was running in fifth place when his engine blew on lap 35. He praised his team after finishing sixth in the Turkish Grand Prix, as he was behind the more competitive BMW cars at the end, and said that the result "confirms the progress we have made, and is thanks to the hard work of everyone in the team".
Alonso failed to score in the next two races, finishing tenth at the Monaco Grand Prix, after puncturing a tyre against the barrier and a collision with Nick Heidfeld and retiring from the Canadian Grand Prix after crashing into the wall on lap 45, having qualified fourth. Alonso had been keeping pace with the BMW Saubers, who would eventually go on to record their maiden win with Robert Kubica after pitlane dramas plagued both Ferrari and McLaren. In France, Alonso qualified behind the two Ferraris in third, aided by Lewis Hamilton's grid penalty for the pit-lane accident in Canada. However, he was on a light fuel load, and his task was made much harder by being beaten by the slower Toyota of Jarno Trulli at the start. He then faded back to seventh and towards the end of the race while catching Mark Webber's Red Bull he ran wide at the Adelaide hairpin and slipped behind team-mate Piquet, Jr. to finish eighth.
Alonso finished sixth at Silverstone, saying that he had used up all of his available tyres for the unpredictable wet conditions, and that by using practically slick tyres towards the end, he lost a lot of time in certain places on the track. Despite qualifying fifth at the German Grand Prix, he finished in eleventh after spinning off whilst battling with the Williams of Nico Rosberg. In the Hungarian Grand Prix, he finished in fourth place having started seventh, aided by Lewis Hamilton's early puncture and Felipe Massa's engine failing in the closing stages.
In the European Grand Prix, Alonso performed strongly in all three practice sessions and the first round of qualifying. However, he failed to make it through the second round of qualifying, starting 12th. During the opening lap of the race, Alonso was hit by Kazuki Nakajima in the rear wing of his car and sustained unrepairable damage to his gearbox, and was forced to retire from the race. In Belgium, Alonso ran in the top five for most of the race, but when heavy rain fell towards the end of the race, he gambled on pitting for wet tyres with one lap to go. He dropped four places, but a fast final lap saw him reclaim the lost spots, passing Kubica and Sebastian Vettel at the final corner. In the Italian Grand Prix, Alonso achieved his second consecutive fourth place, and allowed Renault to equal Toyota for fourth in the constructors standings.
Alonso claimed his first victory and podium of the season by winning the Singapore Grand Prix. After performing strongly in practice, a fuel pressure problem in the second part of qualifying forced him to park the car, causing him to qualify 15th. In the race he started with a light fuel load on soft tyres, and pitted early when he realised that this would not be successful. However, team-mate Piquet crashed bringing out the safety car, which eliminated the lead of the frontrunners. When they pitted after the pit lane was reopened, they rejoined behind those who had already stopped. This moved Alonso up among top six, and he ultimately won the race, earning the 20th win and 50th podium of his career. In September 2009, after being dropped by Renault, Piquet said that the crash had been intentional and had been requested by Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds. Alonso was declared to be innocent by the subsequent FIA investigation.
Alonso carried his good form into the Japanese Grand Prix, for which he qualified fourth. Running on a two stop strategy Alonso won his second successive race, finishing ahead of Kubica and Räikkönen. In the last 2 races in China and Brazil, Alonso scored a fourth and a second place respectively. In the last eight races of the season Alonso scored 48 points, which was more than any other driver (over the same period Massa scored 43 points and Hamilton scored 40 points). He finished the season fifth overall with 61 points, while also enabling Renault to finish fourth in the constructors standings with 80 points, ahead of fifth-placed Toyota.
On 5 November, Flavio Briatore confirmed that Renault had agreed a two year extension on Alonso's original contract, ending speculation about a supposed move to Ferrari, and a Renault contract "out-clause".
Complete Season ResultsEdit
(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position) (Races in italics indicate fastest lap)
|2008||ING Renault F1 Team||Renault R28||Renault RS27 2.4 V8|| AUS|