Given the nature of the Ferrari F14T machine, it is a wonder that Fernando Alonso managed two podiums on his way to 6th in the Formula One World Championship.
In what was on paper a barren year by his standards, the Spaniard consistently wrestled dragged top performances scoring a pair of top-four’s early on; however it was at the third round in Bahrain that the true qualities – or lack thereof – of the F14T became clear.
Under Middle Eastern lights, Alonso just about secured a finish inside the top ten, but it was clear for all to see that the double-world champion was never going to be in a position to repeat the heroics, as delivered from 2010-13.
Despite this, the 33-year-old persevered to secure a brilliant podium finish in China and followed that up with six more points finish, before taking his second and final podium just prior to the summer break in Hungary.
The Italian squad only fell further backward once the season reconvened at the tail end of August. There was one 4th place in Singapore, but beyond that Alonso was left to battle for a mixture of 6th’s and 7th’s, while others around them improved. One final 9th place classification in Abu Dhabi brought the half-decade Ferrari dream to an ignominious end.
Admittedly, there were times when one wondered if Alonso was truly delivering his finest. Several years of persistent disappointments at Ferrari would sap many a competitive soul, but even if there were occasional “lapses”, the 33-year-old still maintained a higher rate performance than many of his peers.
One sensed through the year Alonso’s growing frustration, as the frailties of the F14T became more apparent and as the year developed, it became clear that the relationship had fractured permanently.
Come the end of Abu Dhabi, the Spaniard were circumspect in his analysis. “Today, my time with Ferrari comes to an end, as does a very tricky season, in which, even if we were unable to do much against the technical dominance of our rivals.
“After five years it’s not easy to say farewell to a team with which I have grown so much over the past five years, both as a driver and as a person. I thank all the Ferraristi for their support. I will miss the team, the fans and Italy.”
Of course, one should never say never. Next year, the Spaniard returns to Woking and to McLaren from whom he endured a very public divorce in 2007. This time he returns at the behest of McLaren’s new engine partner, Honda, and with a rejuvenated Jenson Button as his teammate.