Then McLaren driver and Spanish two-time world champion Fernando Alonso is set to take retirement from the Formula One at the end of 2018 season.
Alonso made his formula one debut in 2001 for Minardi at the Australian Grand Prix and went on to win the 2005 and 2006 championships defeating Michael Schumacher when racing for Renault. He is currently competing in his 17th season in Formula One.
— Sky Sports F1 ?? (@SkySportsF1) August 14, 2018
McLaren released a statement mentioning the retirement of Alonso that read:
"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 added," There are still several Grand 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."
"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.", he wrote.
Dear F1 ..... pic.twitter.com/G9ZzdMwgMn
— Fernando Alonso (@alo_oficial) August 14, 2018
"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."
Alonso has the 4th highest Grand Prix starts, 303, only behind Rubens Barrichello, former McLaren teammate Jenson Button and Schumacher. He has 32 wins, 22 pole positions, and 97 podium finishes so far in his 17 years career. He still has 9 races remaining and is likely to suppress Schumacher and Button.
He became the youngest champion in 2005 which was later broken by Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton. McLaren chief executive Zak Brown labeled Alonso as the legend and said."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.
“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.”, he added.