Double Formula 1 World Champion Fernando Alonso, relegated to backmarker for the past four seasons, is bowing out of the top flight at the end of this season but between then and now he will celebrate each of the five remaining races no matter what.
The McLaren driver, winner of the Japanese Grand Prix twice with Renault in 2006 and 2008, will sadly be struggling at the wrong end of the field this weekend at Suzuka.
But this will not deter Alonso, who told reporters at Suzuka, “Every race now from the moment I decided to stop it’s just a celebration.”
“I can’t wait to go to Austin now and see again the place, drive around these cars. Maybe we’re not the fastest when you see the times at the end of the session but every lap feels fantastic.”
“It’s not that I don’t love Formula 1 anymore, I still love F1, I still love these cars. If I stop now it’s because I am 37 years old and I achieve all my dreams in Formula 1, or more than what I dream of and now I have other dreams.”
“It’s like when you do something in your life, you already did that, you try to find different challenges. I was extremely lucky here and I will try to find something else.”
Alonso’s final Formula 1 scorecard at the end of this year will be downright ugly, six DNFs, scrapping like few can for points to make the woeful McLaren MCL32 look far better than it really is, ask Stoffel Vandoorne.
Credit to the Spaniard’s willpower which keeps him motivated and even enthusiastic despite knowing he will again struggle to make it into the points at Suzuka this Sunday. Surely galling for a driver of his stature with over 300 grand prix starts, 97 podiums, 32 victories plus those two world titles on his CV.
Looking ahead to the final five races, Alonso precited, “I think we will have better chances in Austin, for example, maybe in Brazil as well compared to this one so in terms of results this is not going to be the best of the remaining five,” he said.
“But in terms of atmosphere, fans, it’s a great weekend and has been a great 17 years in Formula 1 here. I came before F1 for the karting World Cup as well here at Suzuka so Japan is always a country that is so enjoyable to race because the fans make it so special and everything is special here.”
“I am ready to enjoy every minute of this weekend because it will be the last Suzuka. I am lucky enough that next weekend will be Fuji [WEC event] so I will still have some fun with the fans and racing in Fuji will again be special.”
“It’s definitely one of the best weekends despite if you’re retiring or not, all drivers will love to race here and for me it’s the same,” added Alonso.