Fernando Alonso got his start in racing by winning three consecutive Spanish karting championships from 1994 to 1997, and winning the Karting World Championship in 1996 as a teenager.
After making the move to cars, he was given the opportunity to test for the Minardi Formula One team in 1999 and beat the other drivers testing by more than 1.5 seconds per lap.
After a year in Formula 3000, he worked with the Benetton Formula One team as a test driver in 2000-1, and in March 2001 made his Formula One race debut for Minardi at the Australian Grand Prix. The car was unspectacular, but Alonso outperformed his teammate in qualifying, attracting notice.
He was on his way, and eventually won two drivers’ titles.
In his Formula One heyday, Alonso was the sport’s record-breaker, who had challenged — and beaten — Michael Schumacher, the seven-time champion. Alonso set five records for youngest pole sitter, youngest race winner, youngest world champion, youngest double world champion and most career points before being beaten in every category by Sebastian Vettel, who would eventually replace Alonso at Ferrari.
In 2017, as part of his aim to win the triple crown of motorsport, Alonso entered the Indianapolis 500 with Andretti Autosport. He led the race for 27 laps and was in contention for the win when his engine broke.
Alonso was part of Toyota’s winning 2018 Le Mans Prototype team, making him one of five drivers to have won a Formula One championship and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Here are his career highlights:
1994-97 Alonso, who was born in 1981, won three consecutive Spanish karting championships. He took the Karting World Championship in 1996.
1999 Karting has long been a training ground for motorsport, and his wins attracted notice. Formula One came calling, and he got his first testing gig in the series with Minardi. He was not yet 20 years old.
2001 The testing led to an actual seat on the team, and he made his Formula One debut in Australia. He finished 12th and scored no points. But he finished higher than his more-experienced teammate, Tarso Marques of Brazil, who failed to finish and was replaced by the team before the end of the season. Michael Schumacher of Ferrari, on his way that year to the fourth of his record seven drivers’ championships, won the race. He lapped Alonso twice.
2003 Now racing for Renault, Alonso began making inroads. He scored his first pole, points and podium finish at the Malaysian Grand Prix, the second race of the season. He placed third. Alonso had his first win at the Hungarian Grand Prix and finished the year with 55 points. He would go on to 31 more wins in his Formula One career.
2005 He became the youngest person, at 24, to win a drivers’ title when he finished with 133 points, 21 more than Kimi Raikkonen of McLaren. Alonso would win seven times this year, more than a third of the races held. Renault won the constructors’ title.
2006 He won his second Formula One drivers’ championship, becoming the youngest driver to take consecutive titles, and Renault also took the constructors’ title. He again won seven races and beat Schumacher by 13 points, denying him his eighth drivers’ title. It was Alonso’s last title.
2007 But he came close. Now racing for McLaren, Alonso missed his third-consecutive title by one point in a very competitive year. He and his teammate, Lewis Hamilton, finished second to Raikkonen.
2010 Alonso, racing for Ferrari, would finish second three times, losing to Vettel of Red Bull by four points this year, by three points in 2012 and by a wide margin in 2013.
2015 Vettel replaced Alonso at Ferrari. Alonso moved back to McLaren.
2017 He languished there, so it was little surprise that he and the team announced he was skipping the Monaco Grand Prix to enter the Indianapolis 500 in an attempt to win a leg of motorsport’s triple crown. He drove a McLaren for Andretti Autosport and finished 24th after having engine problems. Andretti Autosport would win the race in another car, but with Takuma Sato behind the wheel.
2018 He and his team of Toyota drivers won the 24 Hours of Le Mans, one of the races in the triple crown. He just needed a win at Indy to match Graham Hill, the only driver to achieve the crown. Alonso made an attempt, but failed to qualify. During the Formula One season, he announced his retirement from the series after a 17-year career.
2019 Alonso and his team of drivers won the 24 Hours of Daytona on his second attempt.
James Schembari contributed reporting.
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