Debut & Minardi (2001)
Alonso made his F1 debut in 2001 driving for the Minardi team, which his highest result was a 10th place at the German Grand Prix.
In 2002 he moved to Renault and took over the job of test driver there. It wasn't until 2003 that saw him return to a race seat after Renault dropped Jenson Button in favour of the Spaniard. He managed to claim several records that year and became the youngest driver to claim a pole position at the Malaysian Grand Prix. Then later in Hungary Fernando Alonso became the youngest ever driver to win a race, when he took the chequered flag their, claiming victory.
2004 saw him remain at Renault and again partner Jarno Trulli, it was perhaps a sign of what was to come from Renault. With improved performance Renault leaped up the constructors table, claiming the scalps of bigger teams such as McLaren & Williams. Alonso took four podiums and 59 points on way to 4th in the Drivers Championship.
2005 saw Giancarlo Fisichella join Alonso at Renault and together they spearheaded the charge to the title. Alonso had far better luck and became the main title hope at the team, fighting off stiff competition from McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen. Although Alonso's Renault was not as fast as the McLaren of Raikkonen, its far superior reliability saw Alonso claim the Drivers Championship as well as the Constructors Championship for Renault. Winning 7 races and standing on the podium 15 times.
2006 Alonso returned as defending champion and could not have had a better start to the season, winning 6 out of the first 9 races. Although Michael Schumacher came on strong in the mid to latter part of the season to seriously challenge he retained his title for a second year.
In December of 2005 Alonso signed to drive for McLaren in 2007, which slightly alienated his Renault team mates. But that didn't deter him for going for a 3rd successive title. However a partnership with McLaren team-mate Lewis Hamilton was a recipe for disaster, as a rivalry not seen since Senna and Prost began to emerge as the season unraveled. This coupled with the 'Spygate' saga and an increasingly embittered Alonso saw a rapped collapse in the relationship between the Spaniard, his team-mate and the McLaren team. He lost the title to Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen, by a single point, but still finished the season 3rd in the title race. However the damage had been done and Alonso and McLaren decided to part ways.
Return To Renault (2008-2009)
This saw Alonso return to Renault for 2008, the team that he had dropped decided to take him back. Thus we saw a different side to the former 2 times world champion. A quiet and almost smitten driver who was not in a car capable (initially) of fighting for the title let alone race wins. In Germany he was even out done by rookie team mate Nelson Piquet to the teams first podium of the season. However at the Singapore GP, coupled with a Safety car incident that was ironically caused by Alonso's team mate, Fernando managed to win the race and claim Renault's first victory of the season.
The 2008 Renault resurgence continued winning at the next race in Japan, taking 4th in China, and 2nd in the thrilling finale in Brazil. He finished the season 5th in the drivers world championship.
2009 would be Alonso worst season in F1 since entering the sport in 2001. Renaults down turn in performance and lack of competitiveness left Alonso struggling only for the odd point or two. Alonso would also be caught up in the ‘Crashgate Scandal’ after his victory in the 2008 Singapore GP was brought into question. Ironically his best result of 2009 came at the Singapore GP, where he finished a strong 3rd. He subsequently dedicated the podium to disgraced ex-team boss Flavio Briatore. He did manage a Pole Position at the Hungarian GP, but a wheel falling off after his pit stop robbed him any chance of the win. He ended the season 9th and only a mere 26 points.
Late on in the 2009 season, in what has been called the ‘worst kept secret in F1’, it was announced that Alonso would move to Ferrari for 2010 and partner Felipe Massa.