Fernando Alonso, McLaren, Paul Ricard, 2018

Alonso confirms he won’t race in F1 in 2019

2019 F1 season

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Fernando Alonso will not race in Formula 1 next year, McLaren has announced.

The 37-year-old’s decision, which he said was made several months ago, brings to an end an F1 career which began in 2001.

“After 17 wonderful years in this amazing sport, it’s time for me to make a change and move on,” said Alonso 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.”

There are nine races left in this year’s championship before Alonso quits the sport. “I will take part in them with more commitment and passion than ever,” he said.

Alonso is seeking a victory in the Indianapolis 500 to complete a ‘Triple Crown’ of motor racing successes. He has therefore been tipped to move into IndyCar, potentially with a team run by McLaren.

“Let’s see what the future brings,” he said. “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 spent the last four seasons with McLaren but hasn’t finished on the podium once. The team’s split from previous engine supplier Honda and move to using Renault power has not significantly improved their performance.

“I want to thank everyone at McLaren,” said Alonso. “My heart is with the team forever.

“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. 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. I feel I am a more complete driver now than ever.

“I made this decision some months ago and it was a firm one. 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.

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“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.”

McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown paid tribute to Alonso.

“Fernando is not only an outstanding ambassador for McLaren but also for Formula 1,” said Brown. “His 17 years in the sport, as arguably the pre-eminent driver of his generation and undoubtedly an F1 great, have added another layer to Formula 1’s rich history.

“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.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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238 comments on “Alonso confirms he won’t race in F1 in 2019”

  1. I guess everyone’s patience wears thin.. I still believe mclaren will be front runners again.

    Indy it is then Nando?

    1. Hopefully. Triple crown awaits him. Reckon he can do at some point before he’s 40. Thing with the indy500 though, is the fastest guy doesn’t always win.

      1. You mean like in F1?

      2. No kidding! Look at Will Power. 10 seasons in Indy until his Indy 500 win.

    2. Agreed, teams probably got fed up with his politicking – everyone except his friend Zak Brown, which is why he had nowhere else to go.

      1. @ho3n3r

        You couldnt be more wrong. The team bosses are weak and have nowhere near his talent hence why Mercedes had to buy out an English engine and team.

        Proved by them bottling hiring Riccairdo.

    3. Mclaren can be front runners but it is going to take lots of time and an engine rule change. Ferrari’s push this year has proven that there are still things to explore in the current engines so engine parity is still far aways off. Ferrari has probably taken the biggest step ahead this year so for renault and honda it is not even about catching up phase yet. It is about matching ferrari’s and mercedes’ development pace. To make sure the deficit doesn’t grow any bigger.

      Mclaren is doing lots of right things. They got rid of honda and this year they reshuffled their engineering team because they built a bad car and were not able to fix it. What happened this year should not happen next year. But at the same time they built a bad car, lost their clear number one driver and have an engine that is only 8th best engine in f1. Best case scenario it is 6th best. Ferrari and mercedes factory teams have the best ones. Sauber, haas, williams, force india and the renault factory team have better engine than mclaren as well. Mclaren has as good engine as red bull and red bull is probably getting more out of it because they have had the engine longer. Best case scenario is renault factory team, red bull and mclaren are equal. Only toro rosso’s honda engine is worse than mclaren’s. That is one deep hole to climb out of just on the chassis side. The engine situation makes it almost impossible because mclaren can not do anything about it.

      1. Peter Scandlyn
        14th August 2018, 20:56

        @socksolid Maccas doing right things….? Yeah. Right, soon as they toss Zak!

    4. Everybody is taking Indy, but what about Formula E. That would be such a big win for the series and a good move for Fernando considering how fast the series is growing. It would also give us a chance to have a truly visual indicator of Alonso’s driving prowess. If I was Agag, I’d be pushing real hard to get Alonso in there.

      1. There’s a Massa post on twitter welcoming him fo Formula E.

    5. McLaren should try get Stroll from Williams. Then they’d have a solid reason for lack of pace.

    6. I think he should have made the Indy move a year ago, as I said here. I’d like to see him as a frontrunner there, rather than struggling in the midfield in F1.

  2. Predictable, but what a loss for F1. Thanks for all those years, I’ll miss you!

    1. @spoutnik Not to stir up rumors, but did you perceive this as a proper retirement or more a Prost 1993. I’ve just thought it interesting that nobody (yet) has used the word ‘retirement.’

      1. More or less it looks like a Prost 1993 or Lauda 1982 thing. Should a proper opportunity occurs, he’ll come back and win the championship.

        In the meantime it’s best to keep himself challenged and refreshed elsewhere as F1 has pretty much stagnated on the development race and the racecraft in general.

        Impressive racer!

        1. More like a Mansell 1993 thing where Mansell went to CART, then returned two two years later and f1 had moved on.

      2. Well, hakinen didnt announced he was retiring either. It was just a year off.

        Years later, when it was obvious that he wouldnt return, he truly announced his retirement.

        1. To be fair, that was on Ron Dennis’s insistence that the door be left open for a return.

          Mika had “retired”, but Ron had kept the door open assuming he’d regret it.

          He didn’t.

          I seem to remember Mika had a test a few years later (maybe 2?) for the team to have a look and see how he felt, but was so, so far off the pace he pretty much officially ended it right there.

          It was only years later when rumours surfaced he could return he properly came out and said “no, i’m retired” to shut it down, but really he was always retired from day 1. Ron just never accepted it!

        2. Any driver who retires because he can’t handle the pressure of fighting for a championship deserves to retire. There shouldn’t be any door open for him on return.

      3. Isn’t that because Alonso is not retiring though @ajpennypacker? He “just” announced that he will not be racing in F1, but he is certain to continue in WEC (as confirmed last year already when Toyota announced him as a driver) and is likely to do at least a few IndyCar races too.

        It is not even sure yet that he quits McLaren since they might still go to IndyCars together. So no, this is no retirement.

      4. georgeboole (@)
        14th August 2018, 18:26

        Well at least he didn’t do a Massa, retiring twice but returning in Formula E.
        I d love a team radio tribute now!

        1. Massa retired from F1 not from racing. And it seens that Alonso is going to FE too. Is the logical place to be, FE is the more competitive open seater after F1.

          1. Fudge Kobayashi (@)
            15th August 2018, 10:03

            Alonso is not going to FE, that is a laughable suggestion.

    2. He will come back. Some day, after his endeavours in Indianapolis, he will return. I hope.

  3. There’s a saying that every politician’s career ends in failure, and it seems to happen in motorsport as well. It would have been great to see him bow out with a bit more success in his last season. Whichever series he goes to next, F1’s loss will be their gain.

    1. @nickwyatt That is very true.

      This is quite a unique failure though. I have been following F1 for almost 22 years and almost all the champions who left the sport during this time (Hill, Villeneuve, Hakkinen, Schumacher, Button) left the impression that they were either past their prime (at least in their final season) or had lost the motivation to race in F1. That is not the case with Alonso – everything suggests he is as sharp and committed as ever, despite all the frustration. Rosberg left on a high note because he wanted to do so and he also admitted that the championship year had been mentally exhausting.

      Alonso, however, seems to be ready to keep fighting but all the doors that could potentially lead him to another championship title or at least new race victories are simply closed. The combination of the politics of F1, his character, the bridges he has burned in the past and some bad luck has brought him to this extraordinary situation. There have been suggestions that Alonso would have scored more points if he was driving this year’s Ferrari instead of Vettel and that Ferrari’s new president might have even considered taking the Spaniard back. That is pure speculation of course. But it shows the absurdity of the situation – a driver who is really expected to fight for the world championship is leaving the sport because he cannot even get a car that is capable of occasional podium finishes. I hope that some smart F1 journo is already working on Alonso’s biography – that would be such a bestseller.

      1. @girts @nickwyatt I find it very annoying and intellectually lazy for certain people (especially journalists) to keep pushing the “Alonso the politician” narrative to explain why he hasn’t won more championships. The reality is that in the last 8 years unless you were in a Mercedes or a Red Bull you were not likely to win a championship (We can throw in 2017 as a year when Ferrari could have won, but Sebastian threw it away). The point is that Fernando left Ferrari long before they became competitive. He also wanted to leave. Maybe it was a bit rushed, but Fernando was on his way out. With Sebastian there since, there was never a chance that Fernando would be brought it, regardless of past experiences. Ferrari always have a #1 and #2 driver, or at least for the last 3 decades. Sebastian was chosen as #1.

        Red Bull? Well, clearly Fernando was never going to go there. Not only because RB wouldn’t have been able to afford him but also because RB rise was as shocking and unexpected as was Brawn GP.

        Mercedes? There may have been a chance in the early days (prior to 2010), but he missed Mercedes to join Ferrari. Not a bad choice. Keep in mind that Mercedes was 4 years away from fighting for a championship. Back to 2017/2018, why not take Alonso? Well, why would they? They’ve had the best car on the grid. Valteri is a solid #2 driver good enough to be on the podium with Lewis, but not fast enough to challenge him regularly and stir the pot. Also, Bottas is cheaper by a couple of orders of magnitude.

        So is Fernando Alonso a driver that stirred up controversy and politics wherever he went? Sure, there’s no denying that. But that’s not why he didn’t win more championships. That’s more down to living through a couple of extended eras of two teams massively dominating the sport, and those teams having no viable options or need to hire him.

        For all the stuff that’s said about Fernando politicking, the one that I do hold against him is 2007 as a whole. That was a disaster. But again, demonstrating that politics taking the back seat to money in F1, McLaren is the team that held onto Fernando in the end. They paid him a fortune, helped him broaden his racing portfolio, helped him advance his Kimoa brand.

        1. Alonso was at the best team on the grid in 2007 but got beat/matched by a rookie teammate.

          Then resorted to blackmail in order to be given preferential treatmen.

          All he had to do was beat a rookie, he would have won 2007 and then been at McLaren in 2008 with a car good enough to win a championship with.

          At that stage he would have had 4 in a row and who knows where he would have ended up. He might have found himself in a Mercedes by 2014.

          He only has himself to blame for having just the two championships.

    2. Nico Rosberg

  4. BTCC Fernando, you know it makes sense. And you JB. Stop playing silly buggers over there in Japan.

    1. I would definitely watch that!

    2. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
      14th August 2018, 20:27

      Mansell style!

      1. Didn’t he crash?

        1. He did. But he won his first year. He held both F1 and Indycar titles.

          Everyone crashes at Indycar :)

        2. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
          14th August 2018, 22:01

          @falken yep! In both 92 and 98, Mansell style!

  5. Makes sense. No point in him driving around in the midfield. Hope he goes for the Indy title next year. That would be exciting. I enjoyed 05-06, Suzuka hurt for me personally but Alonso was a worthy champion. World class. Although I’m not his biggest fan he is an incredible talent that will be missed by f1 and some of the older fans such as my self.

  6. ….And so he goes into the future. What a shame that it has to end like this Nando. All the best for the future though.

  7. Well at the very least I won my bet. Seemed certain to me when his Dad came to see him race at the Spanish GP, nothing like your last home GP to get your family out.

  8. Bye Nando.
    Your driving will be missed.

  9. ” 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.”
    So I guess what he is saying is only that he won’t be in F1 next year, not closing the door on it forever.

    1. Wishful thinking on his part

    2. Mika Hakkinen and Jenson Button say hi.

      1. What role did Jenson play in McLaren’s resurgence? Last I checked, he was part of their demise.

        1. I was referring to the

          not closing the door on it forever

          Though I guess Button did come back, albeit for one race, but still waiting on Hakkinen’s return from sabbatical…

        2. @kgn11

          What role did Jenson play in McLaren’s resurgence? Last I checked, he was part of their demise

          Part of their demise? Give me a break! Every year he drove for them that they had a race winning car, he won, on multiple occasions.

          Their downfall started in 2013 when they decided to build a whole new car instead of developing the 2012 model, like everyone else did. If any clown thinks anything like that is down to the drivers, you’re insane. But if you do think that, then I guess Hamilton can shoulder just as much of the blame for the 2013 car as Button.

          Are you also saying that Alonso was part of McLarens demise? Hes been there for nearly 4 years and they haven’t improved.

          So there you have it folks and F1 team bosses everywhere, if you build a crap car, just sack your driver’s, cause clearly it’s their fault. Even if they are two of the most experienced and successful the sport has ever seen.

          Well done, very well done. Slow clap for you.

          1. “Every year he drove for them, they had a race winning car”…

            That’s very true, they also had Hamilton there as well & when he left, Jenson said, “this is my team now”

            Their demise started in 2013.

  10. Shame he only won two titles.

    1. He is lucky he even got those two

  11. The biggest snub that no one seems to be talking about is that Nando was the last Renault champion. Renault wanted a driver but instead of recruiting Nando, they went to Ricciardo! For me this is a bigger snub to Nando than all the other top 3 teams that people have been harping on about.

    1. Perhaps because there’s no guarantee that it was Renault who decided not to go with him. Perhaps they contacted a few people, including Alonso, but his mind was already made up, considering it’s unlikely Renault will compete for a few years either

      1. I doubt that very much. Just earlier this year Renault (Alan Prost) said very publicly that Renault is not ready for Alonso yet with is political correctness way of saying we don’t want that person

        1. Correct, I remember Prost saying that.

      2. There are two ways to read this sentence: “I made this decision some months ago and it was a firm one.”. You can read it that he was planning to exit f1 or just exit mclaren.

    2. @pking008

      Prost openly admitted that they wouldn’t be fighting for the championship anytime soon, and Alonso didn’t have the time left to wait for another development project. It wasn’t going to work out to have him frustrated for another midfield team in the paddock.

      1. Exactly. What is it about these people who don’t understand it was either Merc or Ferrari. Jeez

    3. @pking008

      The biggest ‘snub’ was Merc or Ferrari not hiring Riccairdo who’s beaten both their number 1’s in the slower Red Bull.

      This also ends the myth they didnt ‘want’ Alonso. They are weak bottlers pandering to their favourites. Remember how bad Merc treated Michael Schumacher when they saw the chance of hiring Hamilton.

      Alonso has more talent than Merc or Ferrari management.

  12. Neil (@neilosjames)
    14th August 2018, 16:20

    Sad to see him go, and happy to see him go.

    Sad because I want to be able to see the great drivers in F1, and he’s very much one of those. Happy because great drivers should have the chance to fight for race wins, and there’s no way he would have got that chance next year.

  13. He doesn’t deserve this end to his career. He deserves to be remembered as one of F1’s finest talents, and he will be my favourite driver forever. Fare the well, Fernando!

  14. Thanks alot McLaren.

  15. Saddened to hear this decision but was predictable after disaster that was McLaren-Honda. Lets hope he gets that Indy 500 win.

  16. I hope he does indycar next year, his attempt at the indy 500 was my motorsport highlight of 2017, though it might depend on it conflicting with the WEC Schedule.

    1. @emu55 Do you think there’s any chance this is not a proper retirement. I really haven’t seen anyone use that word yet at McLaren. Meaning, do you think this could be a hiatus, akin to Prost in 1993?

      1. yeah, I thought that too, Indy and wec in 2019 with the option to come back in 2020 if McLaren improve.