On October 22 2006, Fernando Alonso was on top of the world. He'd clinched a second consecutive world championship at the Brazilian Grand Prix, and with Michael Schumacher retiring it was legitimate to ask whether the Spaniard might go on eclipse his mark for grand prix victories and world titles. With 15 wins and 15 pole positions in his 86 starts, Alonso had the Formula 1 world at his feet.
Almost 12 years later, and he is stepping away from F1 having added 17 victories, seven poles and no more world championships in the subsequent 216 races. It's frankly pathetic that a driver of Alonso's prodigious ability has secured nearly as many seventh places (16) as wins during that time, and that's entirely down to the machinery that has been at his disposal.
Who knows whether Alonso will add to that record in F1, as for every Mika Hakkinen, who headed into a 'sabbatical' but never came back, there's a Nigel Mansell who does. But even if Alonso does return, his F1 legacy is likely to be of a talent wasted. It seems absurd to say that given what he did achieve, and it says much about how good Alonso was - and still is - that the success he did achieve doesn't live up to his potential.