For a driver with two World Championship wins and a record number of starts in Formula 1 to his name, Fernando Alonso enters his 20th season in the sport still hungry for success.
The Spaniard will be driving for the sixth different team of his career this year after swapping Alpine for Aston Martin, where he has signed a two-year contract.
That will see Alonso continue to drive in F1 until he is at least 43, and his performances last season gave little hint of any forthcoming drop-off in form.
It’s already been a rollercoaster career for Alonso and more twists and turns are likely to come with the Oviedo-born racer to win two or more races this year behind the wheel of the much-improved Aston.
Winning races is a far cry from where Alonso got his break in F1 as a driver for Minardi in the 2001 season.
The car was largely uncompetitive with Alonso failing to score a point that season, but it was a foot in the door for a driver from a working-class family.
Alonso’s father, a mechanic, had given him his first kart at age three, although only after his sister had turned it down.
He went on to win the Spanish Karting Championship and Junior World Championship as a youngster, before a short two-year single-seater racing stint with Formula Nissan and Formula 3000.
He may not have scored any points with Minardi, but he did manage to catch the eye of Renault chief Flavio Briatore, becoming the French team’s test driver for 2002 before replacing Jenson Button to partner Jarno Trulli for the 2003 season.
Briatore’s decision proved to be a masterstroke as Alonso became the youngest driver to secure a pole position at the second race of the season in Malaysia, before becoming the youngest race winner with victory in Hungary.
Alonso would go on to deliver the title two years later, taking advantage of a faltering Ferrari and an unreliable McLaren to capture F1’s top prize.
El Nando’s tally of seven race wins and 144 points was good enough to see him become the youngest F1 champion in history, and despite a reversal in the regulations that were blamed for costing Ferrari the title in 2005, Alonso retained his crown in 2006.
Michael Schumacher pushed Alonso the distance that season, the German producing a mid-season fightback that heaped a lot of pressure on the young Renault racer.
A couple of mechanical issues late in the year for Schumacher would aid Alonso’s cause, but beating the seven-time world champion in a title scrap was still a major achievement.
Having edged out Schumacher for the championship before the German retired, Alonso was expected to go on and dominate F1 with his new team, McLaren.
However, while he came within a point of a hat-trick of titles in 2007, off-track controversy involving him and a young Lewis Hamilton marred his time with the team.
He’d depart McLaren in acrimonious circumstances after one year, returning to Renault, where he found a very different team to the one he left. The French manufacturer was no longer competitive and after two years Alonso was on the move again, joining Ferrari in 2010.
He would again see the title slip through his grasp in his maiden year with the Scuderia, leading the World Championship heading into the final race of the season, only for Sebastian Vettel to snatch the gong.
That would set Vettel and Red Bull on their way to dominating F1 for the next four years, with Alonso only getting close to the German in 2012 when finishing three points behind in the standings.
Having vented his frustrations with Ferrari’s diminishing competitiveness in public, Alonso and the Italians parted ways in 2014, only for the Spaniard to shock F1 by returning to McLaren.
Going back to the Woking-based outfit turned out to be a huge mistake due to the team’s nightmarish partnership with engine suppliers Honda.
Alonso had five DNFs over the first eight races and endured two years of uncompetitive misery before McLaren parted ways with Honda in 2017.
McLaren were more competitive in 2018, but not enough to match Alonso’s ambitions and he walked away from F1 at the end of the year, hinting at retirement.
He instead branched out to win the Daytona 24 Hours and competed in the Indy 500 and Dakar Rally before coming back to F1 for a third stint with the Renault works team, Alpine, in 2021.
Now a veteran of the grid, Alonso has been a steady performer over the last two years for Alpine, finishing 10th and ninth in the Drivers' standings, while becoming the first driver to start 350 races in F1 history last year in Singapore.
Milestones like that are not good enough for an ambitious driver like Alonso though and he’s now with Aston Martin, who are splashing the cash on a new development team and factory in the hope of moving up to fight the big boys.
Alonso believes Aston can help him claim a third world title and his performances on the track suggest he could challenge Max Verstappen and Co if given the chance.
The 41-year-old remains consistently quick in a race, attacking every corner with a high level of aggression that’s characterised his career.
While he’s never been a top level qualifier and isn’t always the easiest to get on with, Alonso’s racecraft is second to none as he rarely makes a mistake despite his aggressive style, while having the ability to adapt to any situation.
They are traits that have served him well and should continue to do so for Aston, where expectations are high for a strong showing from the talented Spaniard.
Having made some poor choices throughout his career when it’s come to pick teams, Alonso could finally be on the right path with Aston.