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Fernando Alonso Was The Last Driver to Enter Formula 1 Without Any ‘Support’, Claims Ex-Team Boss

Aishwary Gaonkar

Fernando Alonso Was The Last Driver to Enter Formula 1 Without Any Support, Claims Ex-Team Boss

Fernando Alonso has been in F1 for more time than Oscar Piastri has been alive! However, he did not need support like Piastri from a driver academy to get to F1. The Spaniard debuted in 2001 with Minardi and within just a few years showed his prowess. Former team boss Cyril Abiteboul agreed to this notion, as he called the 42-year-old the last driver to enter F1 without any support.

In an interview with French website FranceInfo, the former Renault boss explained his viewpoint about young drivers and the support they get from F1 teams. He cited the situation of rookie drivers getting test runs during the regular F1 season and how Alonso’s case differed back in the day.

As quoted by F1 Maximaal, Abiteboul said, “If we look at recent years, you see Lando Norris at McLaren, and Max Verstappen and Sebastian Vettel at Red Bull. Fernando Alonso is perhaps the last driver who came in without the support of a team.”

Many young drivers who are part of some team’s driver academy got such a chance from teams in 2023. Theo Pourchaire drove for Alfa Romeo (Sauber) in a couple of FP1 sessions. Meanwhile, at Red Bull Isack Hadjar and Jake Dennis drove the RB19 at Abu Dhabi. Several other drivers such as Felipe Drugovich, Ollie Bearman, Jack Doohan, and, Frederik Vesti drove in FP1 at Yas Marina.

However, the issue the former Renault boss highlighted was how these drivers don’t get a chance in F1 due to limited seats. Unlike Norris, Leclerc, and Russell, drivers like Theo Pourchaire and Felipe Drugovich are not given a chance. Both drivers are F2 champions. So, Abiteboul‘s point also unveils a deeper ironic contrast between today’s young drivers and Alonso.

Fernando Alonso made it on his own to F1, contrasting to today’s ‘paid’ drivers

Cyril Abiteboul also spoke about paid drivers who often bring in good money as an investment into a team in exchange for a drive. The Hyundai motorsport boss cited that not all drivers who got into F1 recently deserved it.

Abiteboul was referring to drivers like Nicholas Latifi and Nikita Mazepin who were prone to several mistakes and performing below par. Still, they drove for their respective due to the investments their sponsor brought to the table, which was crucial for their teams. The Frenchman still cited that F1 has not missed on any obvious talent.

Fernando Alonso should be hailed for making it on his own, back in the day, contrasting to these pais drivers nowadays. The two-time champion was making a lot of noise with his speed and talent in the Spanish and European racing circuits.

Steadily he won multiple junior formulas to make heads turn in F1, and eventually got a drive at Minardi. While it was a backmarker team, Alonso made the most of it in 2001 to learn a lot. He had a gap year in 2002, as a test and reserve driver for Renault.

Eventually, the then-Renault boss Flavio Briatore promoted the Asturian to a race seat in 2003. From there on nothing was stopping Alonso. He won consecutive titles with the French team in 2005 and 2006.

While the 32-time racer winner has made some questionable career moves since his Renault heydays, Alonso was and always will be one of the rare and unique racing talents who raced in F1. His triumphs and strong performances in various categories such the Endurance racing (Le Mans), and rallying (Dakar rally) back his versatile racing prowess.

About the author

Aishwary Gaonkar

Aishwary Gaonkar


Aishwary Gaonkar is the F1 Editor at The SportsRush. Having written over 757 articles about different aspects of the sport, Aishwary passionately likes to dive deep into the intricacies of the on-track events. He has been an avid F1 fan since the 2011 season, amid Sebastian Vettel's dominance. Besides the 4-time champion, he also likes Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen. Among the current drivers, he thinks Charles Leclerc and Oscar Piastri have championship-winning caliber. Longing for a Ferrari world championship, Aishwary is also a fan of Aston Martin's underdog story and their bid to win the F1 championship. Other than F1, he follows tennis and cricket too.

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