Fernando Alonso’s relationship with McLaren has not been an easy one, at least not for his race engineer Wilf Joseph as he received one last spiky message from the Spaniard before he bowed out of Formula One.
The 37-year-old leaves the sport with a future return still a possibility, although the likelihood is slim that we will see Alonso back in the sport as he departs to follow his dream of winning the Triple Crown, with a second assault on the Indianapolis 500 planned next year.
The two-time world champion was one of the most loved drivers on the grid – appropriately demonstrated by being voted the fans’ Driver of the Day on his farewell – but it would not be a surprise if a few of those in the McLaren garage are relieved to see him leave, if only to avoid the radio tongue-lashings they receive on a regular occurrence.
Alonso still had one last jibe to broadcast before he called time on his F1 career, and it came late in Sunday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as he pursued the Haas F1 pair of Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen for the 10th and final points-paying position.
Urged on by Joseph to go push on and claim a point, Alonso responded: “I already have 1,800 points.”
To Joseph’s credit, he responded with: “Well, try to make it 1,801.”
It quickly became apparent that Alonso had very much checked-out in his final grand prix, as he then proceeded to cut the Turn Eight-Nine chicane not once but four times, earning himself three time penalties that added up to 15 seconds, although it was not enough to cost him 11th place as Toro Rosso’s Brendan Hartley was so far behind.
Alonso did at least get to sign off in style as he performed donuts on the finish line alongside five-time champion Lewis Hamilton and championship runner-up Sebastian Vettel, before addressing the fans that he was saying goodbye to.
“It has been a pleasure racing with these champions and I feel privileged,” Alonso said. “Thanks to everyone and to Formula One, I will always be a fan of this sport.
“I came from a country with no (F1) tradition, from a go-kart driver, my father was not a racing driver... so happy for that, happy to keep even the last weekend very emotional.
“I will come back maybe one day as a tourist or a commentator and enjoy Formula One in a different way.”
Alonso will stick with McLaren as part of their new IndyCar set-up for next year’s assault at The Brickyard, with the Spaniard looking to become only the second driver in history after Graham Hill to win the Triple Crown, following his previous wins at the Monaco Grand Prix and Le Mans 24 Hours.
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