SportF116 years have passed since the signing of Alonso...

16 years have passed since the signing of Alonso by McLaren

Fernando Alonso had been proclaimed world champion for the first time at the 2005 Brazilian Grand Prix, and just a few months later, after also winning the first constructors’ championship for Renault, he announced his signing for McLaren.

On December 19 of that year, the Spaniard confirmed that he would not continue beyond 2006 with the team that made him the youngest driver in history to win a title, and from January 2007 he would wear the team’s overalls Woking.

Alonso, who was 24 at the time, overtook Kimi Raikkonen in the campaign after an intense fight. The Finn suffered from quite a few reliability issues, and the Spaniard capitalized on his consistency to win.

This movement meant that McLaren had to find the ideal candidate to accompany Alonso in 2007, although they still had one more season ahead of them. With the retirement of Michael Schumacher, the door of Ferrari was opened for Raikkonen, and the British team also got rid of Juan Pablo Montoya and put a complete rookie like Lewis Hamilton at the controls of the MP4-22.

Fernando Alonso, after this announcement, said: “I am impatient for 2007 to come and take on the challenge of winning with McLaren-Mercedes. It will be like a new beginning for me.” His representative, Luis García Abad explained that there was great interest on the part of McLaren to sign the Spaniard and that they could not miss a gap in a competitive single-seater.

Having a signed contract, Alonso spent one more season with the Enstone team, and won the championship again at Interlagos. That day in 2006, on the radio, the Asturian thanked the adventure in Renault: “Thank you. Fantastic job, fantastic, all season, all. Thanks for all these years, it has been a pleasure working with you with this success, I wish you the best for the future.”

The two-time champion had the opportunity to get into a McLaren for the first time on December 15, 2006, after reaching an agreement with Flavio Briatore for the French team to release him from his contract. During that day, Alonso drove the MP4-21 with a completely white helmet and overalls, without any sponsor, just like the car.

(Before you finish reading, click on this link or on the photo to see photos of Alonso’s first test with McLaren)

The Spaniard set, according to the times provided by the English team, a 1:19.747 at the Jerez circuit, and was third in the day’s standings. That was his first contact with McLaren, but he had to wait until January 15 of the following year to find out about the car he would drive in 2007.

In the City and the Arts of Valencia, the British prepared a spectacular presentation. Alonso was delighted to reveal to the world the car with which he wanted to be the third driver in history to win the title for three consecutive seasons, and he did so with a very young Lewis Hamilton at his side, who had just won GP2. What happened next in the 2007 season is another story.

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