July 29, 1981
|Career statistics to end 2013|
The light at the end of the tunnel must have seemed to be growing smaller and smaller for Fernando. Not the one in Monaco, where he was a valiant second – the one that signals the end of his frustrations with Ferrari’s inability to provide him with a Championship-winning car.
It was able to win races: Alonso did just that in China and Spain, two of the first five races of the season. But as Hurricane Vettel gathered force, so Ferrari’s challenge dwindled and Alonso was never back on the top step of the podium again.
So intense is his desire to win that his comments on Ferrari became strident enough to bring a public dressing-down from Luca di Montezemolo.
The Ferrari chief also went public, however, with his late-season comments that Alonso is the greatest driver he has ever had in one of his scarlet cars.
Denied the out-and-out pace to go hunting for pole positions – he didn’t get there one single time in 2013 – Alonso was faced more and more often with the familiar challenge: making a blinder of a start and making up places as quickly as he possibly could.
Seven other podium places on top of those two wins are testament to Alonso’s combative spirit – people like Mark Webber still firmly believe he is the best out there.
Will his focus change in 2014 when Felipe Massa, who failed to stand and deliver the back-up Ferrari needed, is replaced by Kimi Raikkonen?
It will be Fernando’s fifth season in the Ferrari camp. So far he has finished second-fourth-second-second. He claims, vociferously, that Vettel’s uninterrupted supremacy is down in large part to the cars Adrian Newey has provided for the German to drive.
If Ferrari cannot use the new rules to give their star Spaniard a car to match Vettel with in 2014, who knows what seismic changes might result?