Mclaren has today announced that Fernando Alonso will leave the team and F1 after the 2018 season but is open to a return if the teams situation improves.
Alonso hinted at an announcement for Tuesday on Twitter and an official Mclaren statement has today confirmed his departure.
“After 17 wonderful years in this amazing sport, it’s time for me to make a change and move on,” said Alonso.
“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.
“I want to thank everyone at McLaren. 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.
During Alonso’s career he has won the drivers title twice (2005/06), been runner-up three times as well as scoring 32 race wins, 22 poles and 97 podium finishes the last of which was Hungary 2014.
“Fernando is not only an outstanding ambassador for McLaren but also for Formula 1,” Said Zac Brown (Mclaren team principal). “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.
“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.
“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. On behalf of Shaikh Mohammed, Mansour and our entire board, we wish Fernando every success in the future.”
Alonso has not yet confirmed what he will do in 2019 but is expected to race in Indycar being only the Indy500 away from Motorsport’s Tripple Crown.