Double world champion Fernando Alonso will retire from Formula 1 at the end of the season, his team McLaren said in a statement on Tuesday.
The 37-year-old Spaniard is competing in his 17th Formula One season and his fifth with McLaren, and has been widely tipped to race in the Indianapolis 500 next year as he attempts to win the ‘Triple Crown of Motorsport’.
Alonso, a double Monaco Grand Prix winner, won the Le Mans 24 Hours on his debut with Toyota in June this year and is currently ninth in the Formula One drivers’ championship standings.
Alonso started his Formula 1 career with the now-defunct Minardi team in 2001 and moved to Renault two years later. He became the youngest world champion in Formula 1 history with Renault in 2005, winning again the following year.
However, he has not won a race since his victory at the 2013 Spanish Grand Prix with Ferrari and has not finished on the podium since rejoining McLaren in 2015, no doubt factors that played a big role in his decision.
Nevertheless, his storied career includes 32 grand prix wins, 22 pole positions and 97 podiums in 303 starts so far, his last race in the top flight should be the season finale in Abu Dhabi – the occasion of his 312th grand prix start – unless, of course, McLaren find that elusive magic bullet…
McLaren Racing today confirms that double F1 World Champion Fernando Alonso will not race in Formula 1 in 2019.
Fernando, who turned 37 in July, is competing in his 17th F1 season, his fifth with McLaren, and has amassed 32 wins, 22 pole positions and 97 podiums to date. Beyond his two titles – in 2005 he became the then-youngest world champion in F1 history – Fernando has been championship runner-up three times.
Zak Brown, Chief Executive Officer, McLaren Racing, said: “Fernando is not only an outstanding ambassador for McLaren but also for Formula 1. 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.
“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.
“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. Fernando is an important part of our story and will join an illustrious line of McLaren drivers. On behalf of Shaikh Mohammed, Mansour and our entire board, we wish Fernando every success in the future.”
Fernando 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.
“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.
“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, teammates, 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.”