The Ferrari cracked open the champagne to celebrate Fernando Alonso’s 200th Grand Prix before this afternoon’s race at the Sepang International Circuit.
The World Championship-winning team posed for photos outside the team’s garage. Joining Alonso in the celebration were his team mate Felipe Massa, team Principal Stefano Domenicali, and his mechanics. Also joining in the celebration were many of Alonso’s former colleagues from his Minardi and Renault days.
Last night at the Sepang circuit, Alonso also marked the milestone with a cake, which is now a traditional way to formalise the occasion in Formula 1.
Alonso began his Formula 1 career with Minardi in 2001 as a wide-eyed 19-year-old and took his first win at the Hungarian Grand Prix after switching to the Renault team.
Staying with Renault, he took out the 2005 and 2006 world titles before moving to McLaren in a tumultuous 2007 year driving alongside Lewis Hamilton. He had another two-year and relatively unsuccessful stint with Renault, before moving to Ferrari where he has driven since 2010.
Still with the chiselled-jaw appearance that he had when he first started in the sport, Alonso has become one of the most successful drivers in the history of the sport and is still chasing that elusive world title with the Scuderia.
Something of a prickly character at times, he is much loved by Ferrari’s tifosi and is contracted to the team until the end of the 2016 season. Few would bet against him one day joining Rubens Barrichello and Michael Schumacher as the only men to have started 300 Grand Prix, although he would have to remain in the sport beyond the end of his current contract.