Fernando Alonso to leave F1

Omnisport

Fernando Alonso is to leave Formula One at the end of the season, McLaren have confirmed.

The 37-year-old has had a glittering career in F1, winning back-to-back titles in 2005 and 2006 with Renault, the first of which made him the then youngest ever champion.

Alonso, who is in his 17th season in the sport, has won 32 races, amassed 22 pole positions and reached the podium on 97 occasions.

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But he has been debating his grand prix future amid frustration over an uncompetitive second spell with McLaren and the monopoly over results by the teams at the front.

"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," he said via a McLaren statement.

"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."

Alonso has not communicated his 2019 plans, but suggested a future McLaren revival could facilitate his return to F1.

"I made this decision some months ago and it was a firm one," he said.

"Nevertheless, I would like to sincerely thank Chase Carey and Liberty Media for the efforts made to change my mind and everyone who has contacted me during this time.

"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.

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"I have built so many great relationships with many fantastic people at McLaren, and they have given me the opportunity to broaden my horizons and race in other categories."

"Finally, I would also like to thank my former teams, team-mates, competitors, colleagues, partners, journalists and everyone I have worked with in my F1 career.

"And, especially, my fans all over the world. I am quite sure our paths will cross again in the future."

Alonso's departure from McLaren confirms that both seats are up for grabs at the British team next year.

Stoffel Vandoorne has yet to earn a contract extension, while reserve driver Lando Norris has admitted he may benefit more from a year of free-practice running before graduating to F1 in 2020.

Carlos Sainz Jr could also be an option for McLaren, so long as Red Bull does not call him up to replace Renault-bound Daniel Ricciardo.

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