A relentless fighter with a stupendous stamina and a will to never give-up in the Nuvolari mood. Arguably the most accomplished driver of his era, he came from the same line-up as Surtees, Lauda and Schumacher. Perhaps a little slower than Hamilton for example on a qualy lap, in race trim he could take a fight with anybody and may be considered the greatest racer since Schumi first retired in 2006.
Since he arrived at the Scuderiastablement in 2010 the majority of pundits believed that he will continue the Schumacher saga, winning multiple titles. Almost half a decade past and he remains only a double champion, the honors being won courtesy to Renault and Flavio Briatore in 2005 and 2006. Yet, this doesn’t diminishes at all the quality of a truly great driver hampered by Ferrari problematic cars or key strategic errors.
In his first season with the Rampant Horse he put in a great fight with Sebastian Vettel and his superior Red Bull RB6 and lost the crown only because of the team’s tactical mishaps at the final race, in Abu Dhabi. In 2012, his greatest year so far, took the weird, savage Ferrari F2012 to 3 improbable victories. He vaulted from ninth on the grid to win in damp conditions in Malaysia, and then from 11th in Valencia were he won arguably one of the races of the decade.
In 2012 the team had only the third or fourth best chassis, but at least as his monoposto was on the right tires he blew the opposition from time to time. Only when the all conquering Red Bull RB9 stamped his mark was he hopeless. No driver, be it Alonso, Nuvolari or Clark could better this situation.
Of course, we have also the dark side of him, a great driver, but a strange man. Memories of Felipe Massa being forced by Domenicalli to give Alonso his position will remain a black mark accentuated but one that inspired Germany 2010 call: “Felipe, Fernando is faster than you !”.
If we resume what makes Alonso great in Ferrari terms it’s this: not so much what he has done when Ferrari was on form, as what he’s done when it wasn’t. He performed at his peak at almost every turn. At a time of technical turmoil he has continually flattered his equipment, and that’s the hallmark of greatness.