Double Formula One world champion Fernando Alonso has confirmed that he won’t be competing in Formula One in 2019.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, McLaren announced that the Spaniard would not be returning to race for them next season. However, the 37-year-old did not announce his retirement and hinted that he may yet return to McLaren in the future.
“After 17 wonderful years in this amazing sport, it’s time for me to make a change and move on,” said Alonso, who made his debut in 2001 and has been on the grid every year since 2003. “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 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.
Speaking about Alonso’s decision, Zak Brown, McLaren Racing’s Chief Executive Officer, commented: “Fernando is not only an outstanding ambassador for McLaren but also for Formula One. 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.
“While evaluating his future during the past months, Fernando’s competitiveness has been undimmed. He has continued to perform at the highest level throughout, as we know he will do in the remaining nine races of this year’s championship.
Alonso originally made his debut for Minardi at the 2001 Australian Grand Prix and since then has amassed 32 wins, 22 pole positions and 97 podiums in a 17-year career. He also became the then-youngest Formula One world champion in 2005 and went back-to-back in 2006.
“I want to thank everyone at McLaren,” added 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.”