Ever since it was announced that he would be leaving McLaren and F1 at season end, the rumour mill has been hard at work.
Though there is no doubt that he desperately wants to repeat Graham Hill’s feat in attaining motor sport’s Triple Crown – in winning the Monaco Grand Prix, the Le Mans 24-hours and the Indy500 – many believed that in F1 there remained unfinished business.
While there has been talk of him returning to F1, possibly as early as 2020, in his preview of this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Fernando Alonso appeared to be closing the door on a particular phase of his life.
“Abu Dhabi will certainly be very emotional race for me, as it will be the end of a long and happy 17 years in Formula 1,” he says. “The time has come for me to move on, but I’m looking forward to ending the season – and my F1 career – on a positive note.
“I’m pleased that my relationship with McLaren will continue with the Indy 500,” he adds, “and there will be more new challenges together. There are very exciting things ahead, and I’m enthusiastic for what the future will bring. For now, I’m not ruling anything out.
“I’m fully focussed on this weekend in Abu Dhabi, and making the most of every day – in the car, with the team, and with my friends and family.
“Abu Dhabi is a tough circuit,” he admits, the Spaniard’s failure to pass Vitaly Petrov at the Yas Marina in 2010 costing him a third title, “but we don’t have anything to lose, so both Stoffel and I will be fighting hard as always.”
While some will argue that the Spaniard is playing the long game, keenly watching driver movements at the end of 2019 and 2020, fact is that other than the underperforming packages at his disposal for the last few seasons, Alonso has made no secret of his unhappiness with the current state of the sport.