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Fernando Alonso will make history when he competes in this weekend’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Alonso, a two-time world champion, is in the second year of his contract with Alpine and has three top-10 finishes to his name this season, in Bahrain, Spain, and Monaco.
In the latter race, he proved that despite turning 40, his desire to compete remains as strong as ever. He held off former teammate and rival Lewis Hamilton for a prolonged period in the adverse weather conditions, before crossing the line in seventh place.
The event at the famous street circuit represented the 340th F1 race start of his career, leaving him just nine off the record set by Kimi Raikkonen. Should he complete the 2022 campaign in full, the Spaniard will surpass the mark in Singapore on Sunday, October 2.
But by then, he will already have broken the record for the longest ever F1 career. Sunday’s race in Baku will mark 21 years, three months and eight days since his debut at the 2001 Australian Grand Prix.
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That will elevate him above Michael Schumacher, whose career spanned 21 years and three months exactly. Both drivers share the notion of taking breaks from the sport, with the German legend having retired ar Ferrari in 2006 before returning with Mercedes four years later.
Alonso meanwhile, left F1 at the end of 2018, and pursued other racing interests for two years, competing in events like Indianapolis 500 and the Dakar Rally. His return will now ensure he makes history, although he still has some way to go if he is to one day become the oldest driver to ever enter an F1 Grand Prix.
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The honour belongs to Louis Chiron, with the Monegasque driver having competed in his home race in 1955 at 55 years, and 292 days old. In terms of overall wins, Alonso lies sixth on 32, some way short of Hamilton’s marker of 103.
He has however, established himself as an F1 legend since his maiden race in Australia more than two decades ago. Driving for Minardi, the then 19-year-old finished 12th at Melbourne Park, and would fail to secure a single point in his debut campaign.
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