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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 18 September 2018

Fernando Alonso to retire from F1 at Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Spanish two-time world champion will complete current ­campaign with McLaren but will not be involved in sport in 2019

Fernando Alonso has had a successful but controversial career in Formula One. AFP
Fernando Alonso has had a successful but controversial career in Formula One. AFP

Double Formula One world champion Fernando Alonso has announced he is to leave the sport at the end of the current season with his final race being the Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on ­November 25.

The Spaniard confirmed he will complete the current ­campaign with McLaren but will not be involved in the sport in 2019.

“After 17 wonderful years in this amazing sport, it’s time for me to make a change and move on," the 2005 and 2006 world champion said in a statement. “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.”

Alonso, 37, is set to ­continue competing in ­endurance racing and also have another try at winning the Indianapolis 500 race in the United States.

A perceived triple crown in motorsport is triumphing in the Monaco Grand Prix, winning the Le Mans 24 Hours and claiming the Indy 500. Only Graham Hill, the 1964 and 1968 F1 world champion, has achieved the feat.

Monaco was won by Alonso in 2006 and 2007, and he was part of the Toyota driver line-up that was victorious at Le Mans in June.

With two of the three under his belt he is likely to race at the Indy 500 in 2019, having gone close in 2017 when he led for periods before a blown engine cost him a shot at taking the chequered flag first.

Alonso hinted that a comeback in F1 may be a possibility in the future, even if it is goodbye for now.

“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,” he added.

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Name: Fernando Alonso

Nationality: Spanish

Date of birth: July 29, 1981

Place of birth: Oviedo, Spain

Height: 1.71 m

Current team: McLaren

Driver number: 14

World titles: Two (2005 and 2006)

Grand Prix appearances: 303

Teams: Minardi (2001), Renault (2002, test driver), Renault (2003-2006), McLaren (2007), Renault (2008-2009), Ferrari (2010-2014), McLaren (2015-present)

Debut: 2001 Australian Grand Prix

First win: 2003 Hungarian Grand Prix

Last win: 2013 Spanish Grand Prix

Wins: 32

Podiums: 97

Pole positions: 22

Fastest laps: 23

Total points: 1,893

Drivers' championship record: First (2005, 2006), second (2010, 2012, 2013), third (2007), fourth (2004, 2011), fifth (2008), sixth (2003, 2014), ninth (2009), 10th (2016), 15th (2017), 17th (2015), 23rd (2001)

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Fernando Alonso will bring his Formula One career to a halt in Abu Dhabi this year. The National
Fernando Alonso will bring his Formula One career to a halt in Abu Dhabi this year. The National

Alonso’s second and last world title came 12 years ago and the most recent of his 32 race victories came in May 2013 in Spain.

He has not been on the podium at a grand prix since July 2014 and he has struggled with an uncompetitive ­McLaren in recent seasons after rejoining the team in 2015, having had one year with them previously in 2007.

He is ninth in the drivers’ championship this season, but his best result in the opening 12 races of the season was fifth place in the first event of the year in Australia in March.

He had been linked with a move to Red Bull Racing for next season after Daniel Ricciardo had confirmed that he was departing the Austrian team for Renault.

But, Christian Horner, the Red Bull team principal had publicly ruled out a move for the veteran, who has started 303 grand prix, the fourth most in the sport’s history.

Horner, speaking on F1’s official podcast, alluded to Alonso’s controversial past, which has seen him have acrimonious exits from McLaren in his first stint with the team, and also Ferrari, for why they were willing to ignore the services of a proven race winner.

“He tends to cause a bit of chaos wherever he’s gone. I’m not sure it would be the healthiest thing for the team for Fernando to join the team,” Horner said.

McLaren are seventh in the constructors’ standings and Alonso vowed to push hard for the British team in his remaining seven races before the season comes to a close at Yas Marina Circuit in November.

“There are still several grands prix to go this season, and I will take part in them with more commitment and passion than ever,” he said.

“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.”

McLaren will now look to decide on their driver line-up for 2019 with a number of options available to them.

Stoffel Vandoorne is Alonso’s current teammate, but has struggled this season. Carlos Sainz, the Renault driver had already been linked with the team, and GP2 driver Lando Norris could be promoted.

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