Fernando Alonso made a new slice of Formula 1 history for himself at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, taking a record away from the legendary Michael Schumacher in the process
The German was for so long the most successful racer ever to appear in the sport, and was around for longer than anyone before him as well. Exactly 21 years and three months passed between his first and last race appearance, a record set in 2012 that would take a while to beat.
Perhaps 10 years is a shorter timeframe than expected, but it was eclipsed on Sunday when Alonso took to the track for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. By taking part in the Baku race, his F1 career was officially extended to 21 years, three months and eight days.
Had the Spaniard been in the sport for that entire period, then the race in Azerbaijan would also have been his 400th Grand Prix. It wasn’t as he had a mini-break from F1 between 2019-20, but he is still creeping towards the current F1 appearance record held by the recently retired Kimi Raikkonen.
Other than his new record, Alonso also came away from the race with something else to show for his efforts. A controlled performance yielded a seventh-placed finish and the six points that come with it, while Alpine team-mate Esteban Ocon added an extra point to that total by crossing the line 10th.
While it took Alonso a decade to break Schumacher’s longevity record, it may be a much longer period this time. Lewis Hamilton is expected to break into the top 10 later this year, overtaking Jack Brabham, but his career is still more than six years shorter than that of his former McLaren team-mate.
Sebastian Vettel is also only a few months behind the Briton, but both of them are in the twilight of their F1 careers and are unlikely to go on for long enough to threaten Alonso’s new record. The next current active racer on the list is Sergio Perez, who is 50th with a career spanning a little over 11 years so far.
Possibly best placed to one day go on for longer than Alonso is current defending champion Max Verstappen. The Red Bull racer has already been in F1 for more than seven years but is still aged only 24, and could set a new standard for longevity if he is still racing somewhere near his own 40th birthday.
As for Alonso, this season may prove to be the two-time world champions last. He is yet to announce a decision on his future, but as it stands his Alpine deal expires at the end of the current campaign and F2 champion Oscar Piastri is being lined up as his successor should he decide to call it a day.