Today, after seventeen years of competing in Formula 1, two-time World Champion Fernando Alonso has announced his retirement from Formula 1 at the end of the 2018 season.
There’s no doubting that the Spanish racing driver has found the last few seasons in Formula 1 troublesome to say the least, with the McLaren-Honda relationship not working out and this year having undulating performances with his McLaren-Renault. In fact, we haven’t seen the popular Spaniard win since the 2013 Spanish Grand Prix.
Having won the Monaco Grand Prix in 2006 and 2007 – and with some unenjoyable seasons in Formula 1, Alonso set his sights on achieving the ‘Triple Crown’, winning the Monaco Grand Prix, the Indy 500 and the Le Mans 24-Hours. In 2017, he missed the Monaco Grand Prix, so he could race at the Indy 500. The Spaniard got to grips with the oval pretty quickly and was running well until his Honda engine blew up forcing him to retire – a familiar story for Alonso during the 2017 season.
This season, Alonso has doubled up with driving for McLaren in Formula 1 with also driving for Toyota in the World Endurance Championship, winning the Le Mans 24-Hours earlier in the year, taking him one-step closer to that elusive ‘Triple Crown.’
Speaking on his announcement, Alonso commented, “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.”
Alonso also reserved praise for his current team, McLaren, stating, “I want to thank everyone at McLaren. My heart is with the team forever. I know they will come back stronger and better in the future and it could be the right moment for me to be back in the series; that would make me really happy. I have built so many great relationships with many fantastic people at McLaren, and they have given me the opportunity to broaden my horizons and race in other categories. I feel I am a more complete driver now than ever.”
This news has been on the cards for a while now and Alonso admitted he “made this decision some months ago, nevertheless, I would like to sincerely thank Chase Carey and Liberty Media for the efforts made to change my mind and everyone who has contacted me during this time.”
He concluded, “Finally, I would also like to thank my former teams, team-mates, competitors, colleagues, partners, journalists and everyone I have worked with in my F1 career. And, especially, my fans all over the world. I am quite sure our paths will cross again in the future.”
During his remarkable F1 career, Alonso has had 32 wins, 22 pole positions and 97 podiums to date, while his 302 Grand Prix starts place him fourth on the all-time list. Beyond his two titles – achieved in 2005 and 2006 – the Spaniard has been championship runner-up three times.
It can only be assumed that Alonso will turn to Indy Car full time for 2019 aiming of course to win the Indy 500 so he can claim the ‘Triple Crown’ he has been longing for. This announcement also adds another ingredient into the Formula 1 driver market for 2019 with McLaren now having to look for a replacement, could we possibly see the young Englishman Lando Norris land a Formula 1 drive with the highly successful team next year?
By Jordan Hollands.