3 – Fernando Alonso
Fernando Alonso's F1 2010 campaign was in many respects a season of two halves. Over the course of the first ten races, he made the podium on just three occasions – yet over the remaining nine, he was nigh-on unbeatable.
Despite triumphing in the Bahrain Grand Prix curtain-raiser back in March, there is no doubt that Alonso's Ferrari F10 was not
the fastest car in the field this year – and indeed, had Sebastian Vettel not suffered a spark plug issue in the desert kingdom, it would likely have been the German standing atop the highest step of the rostrum there instead.
A runner-up finish on home turf in Barcelona was a result in some way aided by attrition – following late-race woes for both Vettel and Lewis Hamilton – and in the wake of a distinctly scrappy effort at Silverstone that was wrecked by a penalty for overtaking whilst off the circuit, Alonso looked out-for-the-count in terms of doing battle for a third career crown in the top flight. Fernando told journalists after the British Grand Prix that he would
still be F1 World Champion in 2010, and nobody really believed him. But he very nearly delivered on his promise.
First, there was the controversial 'victory' in Germany, inherited from team-mate Felipe Massa after the Brazilian was informed by his team that the pursuing Alonso was faster – even though the evidence in terms of lap times did little to truly back such an assertion up.
Alonso should perhaps have been eternally grateful that Massa acquiesced to the thinly-veiled request at all, given the unceremonious and ruthless manner in which the Spaniard had artlessly barged his fellow Ferrarista out of the way on the entry to the Shanghai pit-lane during the Chinese Grand Prix just three months earlier. That move – as much as any other in 2010 – proved that the double world champion's ethics remain questionable.
There were mistakes, of course, with his practice smash in Monaco and spin into the barriers at Spa-Francorchamps most notable amongst them, but a superb run of seven podium finishes – four of them victories – from the last nine outings was inspired, particularly in the light of the fact that Alonso achieved them without the best car on the grid at his disposal.
For some time, it looked like he was going to be every bit as good as his post-Silverstone word. Ultimately, however, the 29-year-old came unstuck – perhaps appropriately, given his inability to pass Massa of his own accord at Hockenheim – by his inertia when he came up behind Renault's Vitaly Petrov in the Abu Dhabi finale.
A title that was his and Ferrari's to lose was lost due to a combination of that and a poor strategic call in the UAE, and it was a great shame afterwards that on the slowing-down lap, the 26-time grand prix-winner let his frustrations get the better of him and he blotted his copybook with an angry shake of his fist at the stunned Russian rookie. As a driver, there remain few – if indeed any – better, but as a man, like many of the greats, Fernando Alonso is sadly flawed.
Statistics – Fernando Alonso:
1st (Bahrain, Germany, Italy, Singapore, Korea)
Crash.net's Top 10 F1 drivers of 2010:
3. Fernando Alonso
4. Mark Webber
5. Robert Kubica
6. Jenson Button
7. Nico Rosberg
8. Rubens Barrichello
9. Heikki Kovalainen
10. Nico Hülkenberg
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