Fernando, like most of the other Formula 1 drivers, began racing go karts while still a child. In fact, his first race was at age 3. He won several national and local Spanish championships and in 1996 he won the world junior karting championship. He began racing cars at 18, winning his first championship, the Euro-Open Nissan series, where he won six races. He joined the Formula 3000 series in 2000, where he finished fourth, winning at Spa-Franco champs.
With only two seasons of car racing behind him before he joined Formula 1 in 2001 at the age of 19, Fernando had shown very little reason to outsiders to merit the praise of his manager, Flavio Briatore, the man who had hired Michael Schumacher at Benetton in 1991 when he was an unknown. Early on, Briatore would compare Fernando to the German driver.
After a year learning the ropes at Minardi, Fernando joined Renault in 2002 for a sabbatical from racing as a test driver. During this year he developed his technical knowledge and his rapport with the team. The result was that in 2003 when he became a full-time driver at Renault, he was a fully-fledged and experienced F1 racer. At the Hungarian Grand Prix in August he won his first race, becoming the youngest ever Formula 1 race winner at 22 years and 27 days old.
Fernando has a smooth driving style marked by the intelligence of both his technical approach and in dealing with traffic and other competitors. On the track he keeps his head under pressure, rarely cracking or making a mistake when it is vital to hold position.