Alonso on the podium after a seven-year gap, but it’s not a record for F1

12/17/2021

 Even at the age of 40, champions don’t lose their magic touch: Fernando Alonso stepped onto the podium after a seven-year gap. And some have had to wait even longer! Find out about all the longest gaps between one podium position and another.

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“If you keep a thing seven years, you are sure to find a use for it.​” ​​(Walter Scott) 


Who knows if Fernando Alonso has read the Scottish writer, author of the successful novel Ivanhoe. Perhaps he should, after what happened at the Qatar Grand Prix. Even if he qualified 5th, he started in third place due to grid penalties incurred by Valtteri Bottas and Max Verstappen, who had clocked up faster times.​

 



With his characteristic determination, the Spaniard gained one place at the start and even when he was immediately overtaken by the Dutch driver and dropped to 7th place because of a pit stop, he didn’t lose heart. Back in 3rd place on the 41st lap, he held on to this position until he crossed the checkered flag and secured the podium place in Formula 1 that he had been chasing for seven long years. 


However, in the meantime, the Asturian hadn’t been twiddling his thumbs, because in the two-year period from 2018 to 2019 he won two 24 Hours of Le Mans races, one 24 Hours of Daytona and one Endurance World Championship. He wasn’t so lucky in the Indianapolis 500, where he led the race for 27 laps, even though it was his first time, before being forced to withdraw and in the Dakar Rally 2020, where he came 13th. 


All this has shown that despite his age – he was 40 on July 29 – he has not lost his driving technique and he is still hungry for results. Counting on this as well as his experience, the Alpine F1 Team signed him up and proposed returning to Formula 1 after missing the last three championships. 

And yet, his return to the Formula 1 podium seven years after the last time is not a record for the world championship. Here are the standings of the drivers who have had to wait longer to return to the podium, in ascending order of time.


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5th place Jim Rathmann: 5 years exactly​


The American only raced in Formula 1 in the Indianapolis 500, which was part of the World Championship in the 1950s. In 1952 he came 2nd with Kurtis Kraft but was over 4 minutes behind the winner. In the years that followed he came 7th, 20th, 14th and 20th again before returning to the podium in 1957: he did it with Epperly and led until the 134th lap before being overtaken by Sam Hanks, who finished 21 seconds ahead in a twin car.​


 

5th place Eddie Cheever: 5 years exactly​


 

The same period of time for the other American, who had spent his childhood in Europe. He stepped onto the podium 7 times between 1982 and 1983, first with Ligier and then with Renault, but after the Italian GP in 1983 when he came third behind Nelson Piquet and René Arnoux, he ran out of luck. He found it again in Monza in 1988 with another 3rd place, this time with Arrows behind the two Ferraris thanks to Ayrton Senna’s crash in his invincible McLaren MP4/4 while overtaking.​



 

 

4th place Mario Andretti: 5 years 5 months 23 days​​



 

He did things the other way round to Cheever: born in Istria, which was part of Italy at the time and is now in Croatia, he moved to the US when he was in his teens. He made his debut in F1 in 1968, earned a place on the podium in the 1970 Spanish GP with March, and won the South African GP in 1971 with Ferrari. After that, due also to his involvement in races in America, his winning streak came to an end. He returned to the podium in the 1976 Dutch GP ending up third, 2 seconds behind James Hunt.​



 

 

3rd place Michael Schumacher: 5 years 8 months 23 days​ ​



 

The seven times world champion left F1 at the end of 2006 with a string of records, including podiums: he earned his 154th podium place by winning the 2006 Chinese GP with Ferrari ahead of the two Renaults. A nostalgia for racing led him to return in 2010 with Mercedes but he had to wait two and a half years before spraying champagne again: he managed it at the 2012 Europe GP in Valencia, when he fought back from 6th place on the third to last lap to 3rd place as he crossed the checkered flag.​



 

 

​2nd place Fernando Alonso: 7 years 3 months 25 days​


Unlike the German, the Spaniard left F1 disappointed with the results of the four-year period from 2015 to 2018 with McLaren when he never finished higher than 5th place. His last podium position was at the 2014 Hungarian GP where he came second with Ferrari. His 98th podium was 3rd place in the 2021 Qatar GP with Alpine Renault. When it was over, he said that standing on the podium with Hamilton and Verstappen meant it hadn’t been a crazy race and that he hoped he wouldn’t have to wait another 7 years.​



 

 

1st place Alexander Wurz: 7 years 9 months 11 days​



 

L’austriaco ha gareggiato in F.1 per quattro stagioni, più 3 GP nel 1997 e uno solo nel 2005. Ma proprio quest’unica presenza gli ha permesso di interrompere l’astinenza. Il primo podio l’ha ottenuto al GP Gran Bretagna 1997 con la Benetton che l’ha schierato al posto di Gerhard Berger, reduce da un’operazione: 3° nel GP Gran Bretagna. Dal 2001 al 2005 è stato collaudatore McLaren che l’ha impiegato nel GP San Marino 2005 per rimpiazzare l’infortunato Juan Pablo Montoya. Wurz è 4° ma con la squalifica di Jenson Button per la vettura sottopeso è salito al 3° posto.​



 

 

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