F1

Fernando Alonso has Michael Schumacher record in his sights with retirement ambition

Lewis Hamilton breaks Michael Schumacher’s win record

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F1 legend Fernando Alonso wants to break one more record before he contemplates retirement. The two-time world champion notched his first podium for seven years at the Qatar Grand Prix, finishing third behind race winner Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen.

The Alpine driver returned to F1 this season having entered the Dakar Rally with Toyota in 2020, following a five-month testing programme in Africa, Europe and the Middle East.

That came after a five-year stint at McLaren, who opted not to renew his contract for last season, before he opted to team up with Esteban Ocon at the English-based team.

After an indifferent start there, his form has improved since the summer break, taking sixth place in both the Netherlands and Russia before his heroics in Qatar last weekend.

The 40-year-old qualified fifth but was bumped up a place after Verstappen was handed a five-place penalty, and then capitalised on a poor start from Valtteri Bottas as he made his way up to second, before Verstappen battled back to pass him.

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Inevitably, Alsonso wasn’t then able to make any impression on the superior Mercedes and Red Bull cars in front of him, but still kept his composure to come home in third.

The Spaniard has already confirmed he will drive for Alphine again in 2022 and he’s now signalled his intention to drive beyond that as well – especially given he has history in his sights.

Should he continue through to the 2024 campaign, and again secure a top-three race finish, he’ll become the oldest driver on the podium in history, after Michael Schumacher was third in the 2012 European Grand Prix in Valencia aged 43 years and 173 days.

“Yes I will be and even if the car is not so good, my plan is to stay at least two or three years more,” he told F1’s Beyond the Grid podcast, when asked if he would be going after the German icon’s record.

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“It will mean a lot for sure, but it’s not that I’m desperate to get it and that will change my whole career or my whole way of seeing the sport,” he added.

“I’m a competitive person, so I’m really looking forward to the third championship and I’ll do all that’s in my hands in the next few years.”

Alonso, who won his two titles with Renault in 2005 and 2006, said pushing for the record would not only improve his focus in his latter years of racing, but also add to his career legacy.

“It would mean a lot in terms of legacy after my career finishes in F1, of how to always push to the limit, always try and find extra things on things you do. Having a very high discipline, and the way you do races. The way you approach racing,” he said.

Alonso has been no stranger to tackling new goals in his career, both inside and outside of F1.

He tackled the Indianapolis 500 partway through his 2017 season with McLaren, and raced and won for Toyota at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in successive years in 2018 and 2019.

Despite those breaks, he has still racked up 331 race starts, and 32 wins, in F1.

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