Fernando Alonso quits F1 for 2019 14 | 08 | 2018

    DOUBLE FORMULA 1 WORLD CHAMPION Fernando Alonso has confirmed what meany had suspected; he will not race F1 in the 2019 season. Though the McLaren driver has yet to announce his plans for next year, it’s expected he will contest the IndyCar series, aiming to win the Indy500. (Related: Alonso wins Le Mans 24-Hours)

    The Spaniard, a two-time winner of the Monaco GP and who earlier this year won the Le Mans 24-Hours with Toyota on his first appearance in the world’s greatest endurance race,  needs the Indy500 win to complete motorsport’s unofficial 'Triple Crown'. It’s a feat only achieved by Graham Hill.

    "After 17 wonderful years in this amazing sport, it's time for me to make a change and move on," Alonso said. "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. As to next year, let's see what the future brings; new exciting challenges are around the corner.

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    “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.

    “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.

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    “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.”

    Alonso made his F1 debut in 2001, driving for Minardi, before moving to Renault as a test driver the following season in preparation for a '03 race seat. He took his first win in Hungary that year and then becoming the youngest world champion in 2005.

    After moving to McLaren in 2007, where his partnership with Lewis Hamilton spiralled downwards into a bitter rivalry, Alosn rejoined Renault for 2008 and ’09 .

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    In 2010 he switched to Ferrari, but in his five years at Maranello the team was never able to give him the car to match his talents and pace. Many still question Ferrari’s team strategy in the 2012 season finale which allowed Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull to deny Alonso his this title.

    McLaren boss Zak Brown praised Alonso’s time at the team.

    "Fernando is not only an outstanding ambassador for McLaren but also for Formula 1,” he said.  "His 17 years in the sport, as arguably the pre-eminent driver of his generation and undoubtedly an F1 great, have added another layer to Formula 1's rich history.

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    "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.”

    Should Alonso start the remaining races in the 2018 F1 season, he will surpass Jenson Button and Michael Schumacher in the list of all-time starts as he would reach 311 GP starts. Only Rubens Barrichello, with 322 starts, would be ahead of the Spaniard.

    Related: Alonso to race Le Mans 24-Hours

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    Jim McGill

     

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