F1 briefing: McLaren driver Fernando Alonso to retire

Two-time world champion Alonso says it’s ‘time for a change’

McLaren driver Fernando Alonso
McLaren driver Fernando Alonso will quit Formula 1 at the end of the season
(Image credit: Saeed Khan/AFP/Getty)

Alonso to retire from F1

After 17 years racing in Formula 1 Fernando Alonso has announced that the 2018 season will be his last.

The two-time world champion, who currently drives for McLaren, says it is “time to make a change and move on”. In a statement, Alonso said: “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.

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“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.

“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.”

Zak Brown, chief executive officer of McLaren Racing, added: “Fernando is not only an outstanding ambassador for McLaren but also for Formula 1. 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.”

Hamilton: Mercedes must over-deliver in title fight

Despite building a 24-point lead over Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton says the pressure is on Mercedes to “over-deliver” against Formula 1 title rivals Ferrari.

Hamilton went into the F1 summer break with victories in the final two races in Germany and Hungary. The F1 ace says Mercedes must continue to work hard in the fight for the world championship.

Hamilton told F1.com: “We are racing a team that is faster than us this year. Last year we were quite balanced, as there were some weekends they were faster than us and some weekends we were faster than them.

“But this year it is swinging more in their direction. We are having to over-deliver on race weekends and pull out more on weekends where we are not quick enough. The pressure to extract every millimetre of every ounce is greater than ever if I want to be number one at the end.”

Grosjean: look at Djokovic

Haas driver Romain Grosjean believes his dip in form can be compared to that of tennis star Novak Djokovic, Autosport reports.

After failing to score any points in the first eight races of the season, he has since secured three top-ten finishes and is now 14th in the drivers’ standings.

The 32-year-old said: “It’s been tough. I think it’s just getting yourself back to where you believe you belong and what you know to do, and there are various reasons in life where sometimes you are going through a tougher patch.

“Look at Djokovic, he’s number one in the world and then [he has] two years completely off and now he’s won Wimbledon again... And he hasn’t lost his tennis [ability], he hasn’t lost his fitness, he was just different. Sometimes you are. I have had some bad luck, some bad moments and then some more bad luck, and it was just hard to get back.”

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