Two time world champion, Fernando Alonso, has announced that he will not be competing in Formula One in 2019. The McLaren driver is likely to compete in either Indycar or the World Endurance Championship but hints his F1 career isn’t over as he suggests he could return to the sport.
McLaren and Alonso announced on Tuesday that the Spaniard will not be racing in F1 in 2019, saying that he had made his mind up earlier in the year, but is leaving the door open to a potential return to the sport if some circumstances improve.
At 37 years old and 17 F1 seasons, Alonso has taken 32 Victories, 23 Pole Positions, 22 Fastest Laps, 97 Podiums and 2 World Drivers Championships.
Alonso made his F1 debut in 2001 with backmarkers Minardi and impressed all season to secure a race seat with Renault for 2003. Alonso would take his first podium at the Malaysian GP and then his first win at the Hungarian GP later on in the season.
With the new regulations introduced in 2005, Alonso and Renault would end the dominance of Michael Schumacher and Ferrari to take both World Championships. Although, the McLaren of Kimi Raikkonen gave Alonso a tough fight throughout the season with Alonso hanging on to claim his first World Championship at just 24 years old. Alonso and Renault would repeat the success and claim both World Championships again in 2006 with Alonso battling against Schumacher for the title.
Alonso then moved to McLaren for 2007 partnering rookie Lewis Hamilton. The relationship between McLaren and Alonso and Hamilton turned sour with Alonso missing out on the championship by a single point.
Alonso returned to Renault to compete with them in the 2008 and 2009 seasons. For 2010, Alonso signed with Ferrari to partner Felipe Massa. Alonso was in contention for the 2010 and 2012 championships but on both times lost out to the Red Bull of Sebastian Vettel.
After a poor season in 2014 in which Ferrari found the new engine regulations tough to get where they wanted to, Alonso made the decision to return to McLaren who had signed with F1 returnees Honda to be their engine suppliers.
What followed for McLaren and Alonso would be 3 embarrassing, unreliable and tough years as Honda struggled with the engine regulations yielding little to no success. McLaren ditched Honda in 2017 and signed with Renault for 2018 in the hope of being able to challenge the top 3 and lead the mid-field.
So far, that hasn’t happened with McLaren being out-paced by the works Renault team and by Red Bull, who run the Renault engine. With 12 races and yielding 44 points, which leaves himself in 9th, Alonso made the decision to leave the sport. For now at-least.
“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.
Alonso hints a possible return could be on the cards if results for McLaren improve over the next couple of years.
Who replaces Alonso at McLaren?
With Alonso departing, McLaren are left in a bit of a difficult situation with a number of options regarding their driver line-up for 2019.
Stoffel Vandoorne’s current seat is under threat with the Belgian struggling to match Alonso in Qualifying and in the Race.
Fellow Spaniard and current Renault driver, Carlos Sainz Jr, has been linked to McLaren and is a very good option. Sainz is being replaced by Daniel Ricciardo for 2019 and could move to McLaren if Red Bull do not renew his contract.
Test Driver Lando Norris currently lies 2nd in the F2 Championship and is heavily linked to a race seat for 2019.