Fernando Alonso & Carlos Sainz

Unleashing Speed: Spanish F1 Drivers Tearing Up the Track

October 18, 2023
Tom Thorns

Spain is a well-respected participant in Formula 1 car racing. Ever since the 1951 Spanish Grand Prix, Spanish F1 drivers have competed at the highest levels.

In total, there have been 15 drivers from Spain competing in F1, the most famous one being Fernando Alonso. He’s also on the 2023 grid, so his time on the track isn’t over yet. But more on him later.

Keep reading to learn more about the Spanish F1 drivers!

Spanish Driver Performance Overview in F1

Before we go over the details of the most popular Spanish F1 drivers, I’ll show you the performance of Spanish Formula 1 drivers on the track:

Grands Prix552
Best Season Finish1st (2005, 2006)
Pole Positions26
Fastest Laps28
First Entry1951 Spanish Grand Prix
First Win2003 Hungarian Grand Prix
Latest Win2022 British Grand Prix
Latest Entry2023 Italian Grand Prix
2023 DriversFernando Alonso & Carlos Sainz Jr.

With 15 drivers in F1 since 1951, we can say that Spain has a healthy racing heritage, winning 552 World Championship Grands Prix. Even though it had a rocky start in the initial years, with some Spanish F1 drivers failing to complete their races, over the years, it got better.

Let’s go over more details on the drivers below!

All-Time Spanish F1 Drivers

Take a look below for a detailed performance statistic of all 15 drivers from Spain who have ever competed in F1:

DriversActive YearsEntriesWinsPodiumsCareer PointsPolesFastest LapsChampionships
Juan Jover1951000000-
Paco Godia1951, 1954, 1956-195814 (13 starts)00600-
Alfonso de Portago1956-1957501400-
Antonio Creus1960100000-
Alex Soler-Roig1970-197210 (6 starts)00000-
Emilio Zapico19761 (0 starts)00000-
Emilio de Villota1976-1978, 1981-198215 (2 starts)00000-
Adrian Campos1987-198821 (17 starts)00000-
Luis Pérez-Sala1988-198932 (26 starts)00100-
Pedro de la Rosa1999-2002, 2005-2006, 2010-2012107 (104 starts)013501-
Marc Gené1999-2000, 2003-20043600500-
Fernando Alonso2001-2018, 2021-2023372 (369 starts)32105223122242 (2005, 2006)
Jaime Alguersuari2009-201146003100-
Roberto Merhi201514 (13 starts)00000-
Carlos Sainz Jr.2015-2023177 (176 starts)116899.543-

11 of all the Spanish F1 drivers never reached the podium, 7 of them never scored any points in their career, and 13 of them never won any Grands Prix.

However, the two that are left are the shining stars of Spanish F1 racing. Fernando Alonso achieved success by winning two World Championships in 2005 and 2006, while Carlos Sainz Jr. won a Grand Prix and reached the podium 16 times.

Both are on the grid during the 2023 season, and we’ll talk about them in the following chapters!

How Many Spanish Drivers Are Now on the Grid?

The two Spanish drivers on the 2023 F1 grid are Fernando Alonso and Carlos Sainz Jr. The former drives for Aston Martin while the latter drives for Ferrari. All current F1 drivers by nationality are here.

Let’s go through each driver’s story and find out more about them:

Fernando Alonso

Fernando Alonso
Credit: AstonMartinF1.com

Fernando Alonso was born on July 29th, 1981, in Oviedo, Asturias, Spain, so that makes him 42 years old for the 2023 season. The Spanish racing driver is with Aston Martin for this season.

His first entry in F1 was in 2001 during the Australian Grand Prix but it took until 2003, at the Hungarian GP, for the Spaniard to gain his first win. Even back during his rookie season, Alonso was a promising talent and the youngest F1 driver to win a pole position.

In 2005, he won his first world championship after a hard-fought duel with McLaren driver Kimi Räikkönen. And in 2006, he battled Michael Schumacher for his second crown. With Schumacher’s engine failing, Alonso managed to win his second F1 world championship.

Currently, he is one of the only three past world champions currently competing in F1, alongside Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen. He ties with Verstappen with two championships won, in fact.

Throughout his career, Fernando Alonso scored 2231 points, reached the podium 105 times, and won 32 races. The Spanish racing driver would have had even more success if he hadn’t been driving an unreliable and underpowered car during his stint with McLaren in 2015-2019.

His time with Ferrari in the 2010s saw him finishing runner up in three races and missing out on the last race in 2010 and 2012 against former racing driver Sebastian Vettel. Those are two races he should have definitely won.

His racing career is still not over, though. If there's one driver who can make a comeback from those glorious two seasons, it's him!

Carlos Sainz Jr.

Carlos Sainz
Credit: F1Worldwide.com

Carlos Sainz Jr. was born on September 1st, 1994, in Madrid, Spain. He’s 29 years old as of the 2023 season. He's the second Spanish driver to win a race in all of Spanish history.

In this season, he’s driving for Ferrari, under number 55. He made his debut in the 2015 Australian Grand Prix, when he was just 20. This makes him one of the youngest debutants in Formula 1.

His one Grand Prix was won in 2022, at the British Grand Prix, where Carlos gained a total of 246 points total. So far, he’s reached the podium 16 times and gathered 899.5 career points.

Carlos made a name for himself as an ever-evolving driver, learning from mistakes and always aiming high. The Spanish racing driver went through multiple teams, including Toro Rosso, Renault, McLaren, and finally Ferrari during the 2021-2023 seasons.

At the Italian Grand Prix, he scored his first-ever pole position, getting 0.013 seconds ahead of even Max Verstappen.

How Many Spanish Drivers Have Won Championships?

Spain has only one world champion in Formula One. The only Spanish driver to ever win an F1 world championship is Fernando Alonso. He gained the two victories in 2005 and 2006, when he was driving for Renault. 

Back then, he was the youngest driver to win a championship point and the youngest race winner. But he was eventually beaten by Sebastian Vettel who received his title in 2010, at the age of 23 years and 133 days.

Fernando Alonso holding a trophy
Credit: SI.com

He defeated both Kimi Räikkönen in 2005 and Michael Schumacher the following year, in 2006, to win the two championships. And if you know anything about F1, then you know that Räikkönen and Schumacher are two of the most legendary Formula One drivers in history.

Schumacher especially is one driver you wouldn't have wanted to mess with back then.

The fact that Alonso beat both and secured both seasons from right in front of them speaks volumes on his ability. And it fills Spanish Formula 1 with pride!

As I said previously, Fernando Alonso would have likely won more championships if he hadn't been driving an underpowered car during the 2015-2019 period with McLaren. His car’s Honda engine made him vulnerable to being easily overtaken by the competition.

He missed a season in 2020 and came back to Formula 1 in 2021-2022 with Alpine, where he reached the podium on third place in Qatar, the first time in seven years.

For the 2023 Season, Alonso joined Aston Martin alongside team mate Lance Stroll. With the vastly-superior Aston Martin AMR23, Alonso drove magnificently and scored a podium finish at the Bahrain Grand Prix, Aston’s first since Vettel’s podium during the 2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

To summarize, there have been 15 Spanish F1 drivers in the sport, and two are on the 2023 grid – Fernando Alonso and Carlos Sainz Jr.

Alonso is 42 at the moment but that doesn’t seem to stop the first Spaniard F1 champion from giving it his best. He holds two championship titles so far. Who’s to say he won’t be winning another one for Spain before he retires?

As for Carlos, he has one World Championship Grand Prix under his belt and this isn't his first season in F1. We'll be looking forward to see how he performs next.

Checkout the drivers from other countries in our other nationality-based posts: