Fernando Alonso and McLaren have announced that the two-time World Champion will move away from F1 at the end of this season.
In a short video on Twitter, Alonso sent a message to his fans announcing he is moving onto new pastures in 2019.
McLaren, shortly after, confirmed his decision by releasing a statement explaining Fernando’s decision to move.
“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,” spoke McLaren Racing CEO, Zak Brown.
“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.”
“After 17 wonderful years in this amazing sport, it’s time for me to make a change and move on,” furthered the departing Spaniard.
“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 made this decision some months ago and it was a firm one.”
Alonso’s first introduction into Formula 1 was in 1999 when he tested for Minardi for just over a year. In 2001, he made his debut with the same team at the Australian Grand Prix.
After another spell as a test driver in 2002, he made an outstanding debut for Renault in 2003 claiming two podiums in his first three races. His maiden victory was later that year at the Hungarian Grand Prix.
The rising star claimed his first World Championship title in 2005 before dominating the start of the 2006 season finishing on the podium nine consecutive times from Bahrain in March to Canada in June to successfully defend his crown.
In 2007 he joined McLaren where he started to become a controversial figure. Relationships with new teammate Lewis Hamilton and McLaren started to deteriorate after his questionable moves during Qualifying at the Hungarian Grand Prix and the ‘Spygate’ saga between himself, countryman Pedro de le Rosa, McLaren chief designer Mike Coughlan and Ferrari’s Nigel Stepney.
Alonso spectacularly quit the Woking team after just one year and returned to Renault in 2008 to start afresh. His twentieth career victory at the Singapore Grand Prix was caught up with Renault’s decision to intentionally crash Nelson Piquet Jr., consequently assisting Alonso to win the race on strategy.
In 2010, the two-time champion moved to Ferrari taking the chequered flag on his debut in Bahrain. He would go onto have a dominant end of the season obtaining three wins and five consecutive podiums prior to the fierce championship decider in Abu Dhabi between himself, Mark Webber, Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel, who would go onto the win the title.
From 2011 to 2013, Alonso had an intense championship battle with rival Vettelm failing repeatedly to clinch a third championship trophy as his Ferrari was never competitive enough to challenge Red Bull Racing. Alonso’s last Formula 1 victory to date was at the 2013 Spanish Grand Prix.
By the start of the turbo-hybrid era in 2014, Alonso’s luck took a dramatic turn; he only able to finish on the podium twice with Ferrari as Mercedes emerged as the series’ new frontrunning team.
In 2015, he made an ambitious move back to McLaren to help work with the brand new Honda power unit. The return of McLaren-Honda was dismal, being both uncompetitive and unreliable from the beginning.
His three years in agony often caused frustration and led to public blowouts towards to the Japanese suppliers.
McLaren decided to split from Honda at the end of 2017 and agreed on a Renault supply in a bid to retain Alonso’s services and regain its competitiveness, boldly claiming that its car would have been a frontrunner if it had a different power unit.
The team and Alonso expected to the new McLaren Renault package to challenge for podium finishes, however a return to the rostrum has yet to be achieved with the team struggling to keep pace with with the similarly-powered Renault and Red Bull Racing squads.
Images via McLaren and Velocidade Alta
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