THE NEARLYMAN

An intriguing concept that has been thrown around ahead of Alonso’s final is the idea of an alternate history for his career. What if the fall-out with McLaren hadn’t happened? What if he had joined Red Bull for its heyday? What if he’d stuck with Ferrari to the present day?

Both Autosport and ESPN have run interesting features considering what could have happened, but instead, Alonso will partly be remembered as being one of F1’s nearlymen.

A nine-point swing across 2007, 2010 and 2012 combined would be enough to make Alonso a five-time champion. In all three years, you can pick out races where gains to put the title in his hands can easily be found – but it was not to be.

The picture of Alonso’s blank stare through the visor of his helmet in the pouring rain following the 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix, and his final title defeat to Sebastian Vettel, will remain one of the standout images of his F1 career.

Alas, while there is perhaps a case for Alonso’s career being marred by bad decisions and mis-steps, the Spaniard himself has no regrets over his moves.

“After you finish your chapter, it’s easy to say, but when I joined Ferrari in 2010, I think 10 of 10 [drivers] were going that direction,” Alonso said.

“When I joined McLaren-Honda in 2015, all of 2014, I’d been hearing that it was a very good decision because the turbo engine from Ferrari was not good.

“McLaren and Honda had one year of development for free as they were not racing in 2014 and that was a mega decision. I’d been hearing good things and I think nine of 10 were going in that direction.

“I think I don’t regret many things, I’m happy with the decisions.”

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