Alonso to leave F1: Then and now - how the grid, teams and calendar have changed since 2001

With Fernando Alonso competing in his 18th and final Formula One season, we assess what has changed since he started in 2001.

Fernando Alonso in 2001 and in 2018   -  Getty Images

Fernando Alonso has announced his impending departure from Formula One following a glittering career.

The McLaren man will leave the sport at the end of the 2018 campaign after claiming two world titles, three times finishing as a runner-up in the drivers championship and once coming third.

Alonso has represented Minardi, Renault and Ferrari as well as McLaren in an 18-season stint filled with highs and lows, and will disappointingly exit F1 as he entered it in a scarcely competitive car. 

Plenty has changed since the Spaniard embarked on his F1 career in 2001, and Omnisport has assessed the contrast between that campaign and the current season.

The Grid

Racing with Minardi, Alonso endured a tough first season in 2001, finishing the year 23rd out of 26 drivers and failing to collect a single point.

Even in a better car the Spaniard would have done well to challenge dominant world champion Michael Schumacher, who won his fourth title at a canter. Kimi Raikkonen finished 10th and Jos Verstappen was 18th.

Fast forward to 2018 and Alonso, now at McLaren, is in ninth place but still a long way off the top of the standings, where Lewis Hamilton looks set to follow Schumacher in cruising to the title.

Raikkonen, the only other remaining member of the class of 2001, is incredibly still involved in the title race, in third, as Verstappen's son Max continues to show promise in sixth.

Read: Vettel confident he can catch Hamilton

The Teams

The constructors' championship race has altered significantly during Alonso's time in F1, even though Ferrari remain in contention.

Ferrari was challenged by McLaren, partnered with Mercedes, in 2001, However, Mercedes has since rebooted its own team with great success and lead the way in 2018. Red Bull has also entered the sport, winning the constructors' title four times, and remain determined to trouble the big boys with Verstappen its main man.

Minardi is one of a number of teams who are no more, while Williams and Sauber - third and fourth back then - struggle to keep pace at the bottom of the standings in 2018.

The Calendar

Expansion of the calendar has been one big change in Alonso's time, with the number of races swelling from 17 to 21.

Alonso debuted at the Australian Grand Prix and that remains the first race of the year, but the Malaysian event that followed, left the calendar last year and F1 no longer visits San Marino, while there is no European GP in 2018.

There are plenty of additions, however, with the sport now in Bahrain, China, Azerbaijan, Singapore, Russia, Mexico and Abu Dhabi.

Germany and Japan are not currently under contract for 2019, but further expansion is planned.