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End of an era: Fernando Alonso confirms that he won't race in F1 in 2019

End of an era: Fernando Alonso confirms that he won't race in F1 in 2019
Aug 14, 2018, 5:16 PM

McLaren and Fernando Alonso have confirmed that the two-time Formula One world champion will not race in Formula One in the 2019 season.

McLaren and Fernando Alonso have confirmed that the two-time Formula One world champion will not race in Formula One in the 2019 season.

Following months of speculation, Alonso has decided to leave the sport to pursue other opportunities, which could open the door for a full-time drive in the IndyCar Series for 2019.

The Spanish driver has had growing frustrations about not having competitive machinery and, since his switch from Ferrari to McLaren in 2015, he's only managed to secure a best Grand Prix finish of fifth place. This has resulted in Alonso chasing other motorsport successes and launching a bid to complete the 'triple crown' of motorsport.

During this period, Alonso had been linked with moves away from Woking, but he never made the switch to a more competitive team.

Even following the shock switch of Daniel Ricciardo to Renault, Red Bull ruled out a move for Alonso, saying instead that they would prefer to promote one of their junior drivers.

In a statement released by McLaren, Alonso 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.

It is not yet known who will be driving for McLaren in 2019. Current driver Stoffel Vandoorne remains under pressure after failing to reach the same competitiveness as Alonso, whilst McLaren junior driver Lando Norris and Renault's Carlos Sainz are also linked with a full-time McLaren drive.

Door open for future comeback?

The most noticeable thing about McLaren's announcement was that not once has the word 'retirement' been used, and Alonso has suggested that a more competitive McLaren could see him return in the future.

However, there's a chequered history of successful drivers having a year or two out of the sport. Some are able to come back and challenge for championships, some struggle to be competitive, and some just fail to return return altogether.

“My heart is with the team forever," added Alonso. "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.

“I made this decision some months ago and it was a firm one. 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.

“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 recent years in uncompetitive machinery, Alonso has turned his attentions to completing the 'triple crown' of motor racing; victories at the Monaco Grand Prix, the Indy 500 and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

With the victories at Monaco (2006 with Renault & 2007 with McLaren) and Le Mans (2018 with Toyota) already ticked off the list, he'll have his sights set on becoming only the second driver to achieve the feat, after Graham Hill.

By the end of 2018, Alonso will likely have 312 starts to his name in a career which spanned 17 seasons. Having raced for Minardi, Renault, Ferrari and McLaren, he's achieved two world drivers' championship titles (2005 & 2006 with Renault) and taken 32 grand Prix wins.

Added to that, he has a total of 97 podium finishes, 22 pole positions, 23 fastest laps and over 1800 championship points.

By: Luke Murphy

All images: Motorsport Images

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Series Formula 1
Author Luke Murphy
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