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Explained: Origins of Fernando Alonso's Alpine F1 team

Jake Nichol August 6, 2021
F1 Grand Prix of Hungary
Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images

Having declared he was no longer excited by the challenge Formula One presented, Fernando Alonso left the series in 2018. However, he was soon enticed back with the Alpine team. But what are the origins of the French outfit, and does he already have history with the team?

Renault bow out after rebrand

After his stunning late race defensive job in the Hungarian Grand Prix on the charging Lewis Hamilton, Alonso finished fourth.

This was after Sebastian Vettel was disqualified from second. However, Alonso held Hamilton up just enough to protect his race-leading team-mate, Esteban Ocon.

Alonso then greeted Frenchman Ocon post-race to celebrate the first F1 win for their Alpine team in its debut season.

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Ocon raced for the outfit last season in its Renault guise alongside Daniel Ricciardo. This was before a winter rebrand was deemed in order.

Wanting to promote its sportscar arm, the Renault group decided to introduce the Alpine name to F1. It had previously raced in the World Endurance Championship (WEC).

Third time’s a charm for Alonso

After two years out of F1, Alonso, who had won the WEC title and Le Mans 24 Hours in his ‘sabbatical’, agreed to return to single-seater racing.

It is the third time that the Spaniard has raced for the team based at Enstone in Oxfordshire.

It was when the team was previously branded as Renault that Alonso marked himself out as an F1 legend.

In 2005, he ended Michael Schumacher’s five-year domination of the series, before retaining his drivers’ crown in ’06.

He ended this first spell to go McLaren and partner a rookie Hamilton for 2007, which proved disastrous.

Photo by Darren Heath/Getty Images

Slightly bruised and humiliated, he returned to Renault for a two-year stint in 2008. He won the controversial 2008 Singapore GP and in Japan.

In total, 17 of his 32 grand prix wins have come for the entity he now races for. Hungary is his best result in F1 since fourth in Singapore 2014.

How long will Alonso race for Alpine?

Trundling around at the back in uncompetitive McLaren-Hondas led to Alonso believing there were bigger and better challenges in wider motorsport.

He tried to win the ‘triple-crown’ of motor racing – the Monaco GP, Le Mans, and the Indianapolis 500, but has not ticked the last box in three attempts.

In 2019, he spectacularly, and rather embarrassingly failed to qualify for the 2019 Indy 500.

Dumped out of qualifying by a minnow at the last minute, the display capped a shambolic week at the speedway.

Enticed back to F1 to try and win that elusive third world title, what was then Renault approached him after Ricciardo decided to jump ship to McLaren for 2021.

It was a convenient marriage as no other team could, or should that be would, take Alonso for ’21, and Renault needed a star name to compensate for the bad PR of losing Ricciardo.

Alonso firmly believes the new 2022 rules offers him the best chance of competing for wins and podiums again.

After 11 races of the 2021 season, he sits 11th in the standings, having taken 38 points, and has the longest points-scoring streak of anyone in the field with six.

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Jake can usually be found writing about or watching anything to do with motorsport – from Formula 1 to NASCAR to British Truck Racing. His work as a motorsport journalist has been published by the likes of Autosport, Motorsport.com and Motorsport News – all highly respected names. Away from racing he is a keen amateur astronomer, podcast listener and enjoys long walks in the park with his three dogs.