Alonso entered F1™ racing in 2001 with Minardi when only 19 years old. It followed just two seasons of single-seater experience, which included an impressive fourth place finish in the 2000 International Formula 3000 series.
His obvious talent meant he was quickly signed up by then Benetton boss Flavio Briatore, who loaned him to Minardi for 2001 in order for him to gain further racing experience.
While his various Minardi team mates rarely made it off the back row of the grid, Alonso regularly qualified as high as 18th, despite an uncompetitive car. He also scored a top ten finish in the German Grand Prix.
He was recalled by Briatore for 2002 to serve as the works Renault team's official test driver and at the recent French Grand Prix it was announced he will take over Jenson Button's race seat for next season, confirming his status as one of the sport's rising stars.