Two-time Formula 1 world champion Fernando Alonso has announced that he is retiring from Formula 1 at the end of the 2018 season.
Alonso announced his departure from active competition from Formula 1 via a video on his official Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts. In it, Alonso addressed the sport and how he loved it since he was a child. The video then shows his old race karts and then touches on his stints in different F1 teams, from Minardi to Renault to McLaren to Ferrari and back to McLaren.
Alonso also made known his feelings for the sport when he mentioned the changes it has been through, saying “I have seen you changing; sometimes for good and sometimes, in my opinion, for bad.”
His departure from the sport though became more poignant when Alonso said, “And this year, while still driving at my best, is how I want to remember you.”
On McLaren.com, McLaren Racing confirmed Alonso’s retirement, with Chief Executive Officer Zak Brown saying, “There is a time for everyone to make a change and Fernando has decided the end of this season to be his. We respect his decision, even if we believe he is in the finest form of his career. Our open dialogue with Fernando has meant we could plan for this eventuality.”
“While evaluating his future during the past months, Fernando’s competitiveness has been undimmed. He has continued to perform at the highest level throughout, as we know he will do in the remaining nine races of this year’s championship,” Brown added. “I know that the entire team joins me in paying tribute to Fernando’s enormous contribution to McLaren; he is a legend both for the championship and for the team.”
Alonso, on his part, said, “After 17 wonderful years in this amazing sport, it’s time for me to make a change and move on. I have enjoyed every single minute of those incredible seasons and I cannot thank enough the people who have contributed to make them all so special. There are still several grands prix to go this season, and I will take part in them with more commitment and passion than ever. Let’s see what the future brings; new exciting challenges are around the corner. I’m having one of the happiest times ever in my life but I need to go on exploring new adventures.”
As storied as Alonso’s career in Formula 1 was, he would also be remembered for his rivalry with then-rookie teammate Lewis Hamilton in 2007. After being bested by Hamilton through the first nine races of the season with podium finishes in all of them while Alonso only had six, Alonso reportedly told then-McLaren Racing team principal Ron Dennis that he be declared the team’s top driver over Hamilton, who was the team’s protege at that time from his years in karting competitions, or he be released from his three-year contract with the team–which McLaren eventually did at the end of the season. Worth noting is that at the end of the season, although Alonso and Hamilton were tied at 109 points–just one point behind world champion Kimi Raikkonen’s 110–Hamilton took second place by virtue of having the most podium finishes; while both drivers had four first-place finishes, Hamilton had five second-place finishes to Alonso’s four.
Alonso just turned 37 in July. He is on his 17th F1 season–his fifth with McLaren including his one-year stint with the team in 2007–and has 32 wins, 22 pole positions, and 97 podium finishes under his belt to date. Alonso’s two world championship titles came with Renault in 2005, where he became the then-youngest world champion in F1 history, and 2006 and he has been the championship runner-up three times, all with Ferrari.
So, what’s next for Alonso? Since his farewell was addressed to Formula 1, it’s entirely possible that he might make the jump to IndyCar for good or maybe even the FIA World Endurance Championship, two different motorsport disciplines that he toyed with recently. One thing we’re sure though, he’ll now have more time to sit back and relax on his deck chair.
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