It was emotional, Fernando Alonso’s legendary Formula 1 journey has come to an end – for now – on a night filled with drama and glitz at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the Spaniard turned his back on the sport he entered back in 2001.
For nearly two decades he has made headlines in motorsport and sporting pages around the globe, and now with 312 grand prix starts to his name and two Formula 1 World Championship titles the chapter closes.
Speaking after a memorable slowdown lap, packed with smokey donuts, with race winner and nemesis Lewis Hamilton as well as Sebastian Vettel, the Spaniard told reporters, “It’s going to be a good memory, the whole package in Formula 1 has been a fantastic journey from a very young age to now fighting in any circumstances and in any car.”
“I came from a country with no F1 tradition, my father was not a racing driver, so I am very happy with what I have achieved. I will come back maybe one day as a tourist or a commentator.”
As for a return to the top flight, Alonso said, “I don’t know. I need a break now. I need different challenges. I want to fight for the triple crown. Maybe for 2020 I will feel the need to do a full calendar for something, Indy Car or F1. Maybe I will come back or maybe I will not want to come back.”
Despite being out of the top ten, the spotlight shone on Alonso throughout the weekend at Yas, a fact he acknowledged, “I was very surprised because I have raced with great champions.”
“I raced with Michael, raced with Jenson Button. Two or three years ago in the same place, it was his last race and no one had all the things that I have received this weekend, so I cannot say thanks enough to everyone.”
After race winner Hamilton embraced Alonso in front of the main grandstand, the Briton said, “Fernando is a true legend. It’s been a privilege to race when he is racing. I was asked all weekend if I will miss him. I don’t feel I will miss another driver, but the sport will miss him and I will miss him from the sport.”
Vettel who replaced the Spaniard at Ferrari added, “Well done to Fernando. We will miss him.”