FERNANDO ALONSO is calling time on his glittering Formula One career at the end of this year, and has signed off with a heartfelt video about his time in the sport.
The double world champion will race for the last time in F1 at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix this November, after 314 races spanning 17 world championships.
Dear F1 …..
— Fernando Alonso (@alo_oficial)
Assuming he completes the rest of the 2018 F1 season, Alonso will have the second-highest amount of race starts in Formula One when he quits the sport, behind only Rubens Barrichello’s mighty tally of 326 Grands Prix.
Alonso also has the distinction of being one of only four drivers to have participated in over 300 Formula One races.
During that time, the Spaniard has established himself as one of the greatest drivers of his era. Over the course of his career, he won 32 races and two titles, and came agonisingly close to winning additional championships in 2007, 2010 and 2012.
More recent endeavours, such as an impressive IndyCar debut at the Indianapolis 500 last year and winning the Le Mans 24 Hours on his first attempt have further cemented Alonso’s reputation.
However, the last few years spent racing in F1 in an under-performing McLaren have been (as Alonso possibly alludes to in his farewell video) “really bad”.
In a statement announcing his upcoming retirement from Formula One, 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.
“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.”
Fernando Alonso’s ‘Dear F1…’ message (transcript)
“You were not expecting me, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to get to know you.
“When I barely knew how to walk, I ran towards your noise, your circuits, without knowing anything about you.
“We had very good times, some unforgettable, others really bad.
“We have played together against incredible rivals. You played with me and I learned how to play with you too.
“I have seen you changing, sometimes for good and sometimes, in my opinion, for bad.
“Every time I close the visor of my helmet, I feel your warm embrace, your energy. There is nothing like it.
“But today, I have some other bigger challenges than those you can offer me. And this year, while I am still driving at my best, is how I want to remember you.
“I can only be grateful to you and to the people that are part of you for having introduced me to so many cultures, traditions, languages, and wonderful people. For having been my life.
“I know you love me and be certain that I love you too.”