After reading all that has been written about Fernando Alosno since his not that good German Grand Prix performance, a question popped up in my mind. Which way will his career go from now ?
Same as two former champions Alonso left his title winning team to try his luck somewhere else. After winning his first title in 2005 he signed for McLaren from 2007 season. He did manage to win his 2nd title in his final (?) season with Renault, but not much went right for him since. When he arrived in McLaren he found his rookie team mate to be the next big thing in F1. He had a car able to challenge for race wins and for the title, but the expected number one status was nowhere. Not able to bite the bullet he did not manage to keep his mouth shut and found himself out of the team not long after the end of 2007 season. (Seems like Heikki has learned the lesson ). With nowhere else to go he returned to Renault, now no longer a front running team. Despite all the PR talk he clearly struggles with the uncompetitve car and his performances seem to start to reflect his unease. There is not really anywhere else to go for him next year. Unless he forgets about Ferrari and signs longer term deal with another team he is stuck with Renault for a while … How will these few fruitless years affect his future career ?
Will he do Schumi or will he do Jacques ?
After winning 2 titles with Benneton in 1994 and 1995 Michael Schumacher left the title winning team (with a year still left on his contract) to join Ferrari in 1996. Sounds like a glamorous move now. But in 1996 Ferrari was a team which had last won the drivers’ title in 1979 (Jody Scheckter) and the constructors’ title in 1983. The team won no races in 1991-1993 and only one in 1994 and 1995. Schumacher brought with him several key Benneton people and after few controversial moments (Villeneve, Hill), one disqualification from championship, lost battle with Mika Hakkinen and one broken leg he brought the drivers’ title back to Ferrari in 2000. Four more followed in 2001-2004.
Jacques Villeneuve arrived in F1 in 1996 as a fresh Indycar World Series champion. He finished on podium in his first race (2nd behind team mate Damon Hill). He won his first F1 race in round 4 and total 4 races in his rookie season. He finished the season 2nd, behind team mate Damon Hill. (It took 11 years for another rookie to get close to Villeneuve’s achievements – Lewis Hamilton finished 3rd in his maiden F1 race, scored his first win in round 6 in Canada and also won 4 races and finihed 2nd in final standings in his rookie season). In his second season (1997) he won the drivers title after a year long battle with Michael Schumacher and their notoriuos getting together in the season finale in Jerez.
But from then on nothing went right for Villeneuve … In 1998 he struggled with uncompetitve Williams-Mecachrome car, in 1999 he signed up for the new BAR team set up by his manager Craig Pollock. Following four years with BAR resulted only in 2 podiums and few points finishes. In 2003 he was outperformed by newcomer Jenson Button and before the last race of the season replaced by Takuma Sato. Villeneuve found himself with no F1 drive for 2004 but made a comeback for last 3 races replacing Trulli in Renault. He did not finish any of the 3 races on a lead lap while his team mate Fernando Alonso finished in top six in each of those races … At that time Villeneuve already had in bag surprising 2 year contract with Sauber alongside Felipe Massa. His season had not started well and it did not take long for rumours about his imminent dismissal to appear. He however survived the whole 2005 season. He also survived Sauber’s takeover by BMW but not for long. After his crash in Hockenheim in 2006 he was replaced by Kubica for 1 race but never returned and left Formula 1 for good.
Does Alonso have what it takes to help to get the struggling team back to the top or will his talent go to waste ?