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Fernando Alonso Retires From Formula One

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Fernando Alonso

McLaren Racing has announced that Fernando Alonso will not race for the team or in Formula One at all in 2019.

Alonso, 37, is currently completing his 18th F1 season and his fifth at McLaren. Since his debut in 2001, he has earned two world championships, 32 wins, 22 pole positions, and 97 podiums. He has also been the championship runner-up three times.

“I made this decision some months ago and it was a firm one,” Alonso said. Indeed, the later part of the Spaniard’s career in F1 has been all but prestigious. Having given up on Ferrari in 2014, Alonso joined McLaren, who had reunited with Honda and had big hopes for the future.

But it eventually became clear that Honda could not deliver a competitive engine in time for Alonso to get a shot at another title before age would catch up with him, and after three years of losing sponsors, McLaren made the decision to ditch Honda and use Renault engines instead.

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“Now we can fight,” were Alonso’s words at the debut race of the 2018 season, but he never seemed as optimistic since, and for good reason: McLaren continues to lag behind teams it would have once dominated, and no big team wants anything to do with Alonso, who requires a substantial paycheck and has developed a reputation for toxicity.

His relationship with McLaren Racing seems healthy enough in the end, which is ironic given the events that took place in 2008, during which Alonso tried to use McLaren’s illegal activities to blackmail the team into favoring him over then-teammate Lewis Hamilton.

Rumors of his retirement had swirled ever since the two-time champion expressed interest in pursuing the unofficial triple crown of motorsports. McLaren pulled some strings to get him in last year’s Indy 500, and he had even been poised to win it until his engine went up in a cloud of smoke.

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Then he joined Toyota for the 2018-19 super season with the hopes of scoring a Le Mans win, which — in part thanks to the lack of competition in the LMP1 class — he got easily enough on his first go. That leaves only the Indy 500 for the triple crown, leaving little doubt that IndyCar is where Alonso will be headed now that he is putting F1 behind him.

“Let’s see what the future brings; new exciting challenges are around the corner,” he said. “I’m having one of the happiest times ever in my life but I need to go on exploring new adventures.”

Alonso will leave F1 as one among the greatest of his generation and possibly of all time. Toxicity notwithstanding, there’s no doubt the sport is losing a superb driver; though one could argue his greatness was lost four years ago when he joined McLaren.