Fernando Alonso equaled Kimi Raikkonen’s record last weekend at Monza, with 349 starts in Formula 1 grand prix , placing himself on the verge of the absolute record.
At 41, the Spaniard has shown few signs of wanting to hang up his helmet, especially after recently signing a multi-year deal with Aston Martin from 2023.
The two-time world champion has no doubt that he will reach 400 races, a figure he would likely reach towards the end of the 2024 season if all goes according to plan.
“I know the number [of races] I’ve had because every weekend we repeat it, but I’m not very focused on that,” Alonso said at the Italian GP when asked about the record held by Raikkonen at the time.
“I am happy to have been in Formula 1 for so many years, and with two more to come, or whatever.”
“I will reach 400 races for sure, so that’s a great figure. It shows my passion for this category and my discipline to always perform at the highest level.”
“If you don’t perform, no team will give you a chance to get to 400 grands prix, that’s for sure.”
Despite being the oldest driver on the grid, Alonso has always repeated that his wish is and was to prolong his career in F1 until 2023 and beyond. That was one of the main points of friction that caused the breakdown of negotiations with Alpine, since the French were only considering a one-year contract with an option to another under specific conditions.
Alonso’s career in the top flight has spanned more than 20 years. The Spaniard made his debut with Minardi in 2001 and since then he has played every season with the exception of 2002, when he was a Renault test driver, and 2019-2020, two years in which he preferred to step aside and spend time away of F1 to explore other disciplines of motorsport, such as the WEC or the Dakar.
2007 world champion Raikkonen snatched the record for most grands prix in F1 from Rubens Barrichello at the 2020 Eifel Grand Prix, before making his final appearance alongside Alfa Romeo in Abu Dhabi last year.
Apart from Alonso , the only active driver with more than 300 starts is Lewis Hamilton, with 304. In the next six races he will overtake Jenson Button and Michael Schumacher, both with 306, and will be in fourth position in said historical classification.
Sebastian Vettel is just behind Hamilton, with 294 starts, which means his last race in Abu Dhabi, which will mark his retirement from F1, should be his 300th.