Alonso: I'm a full-time racing driver, a fighter

Thankfully, one of the sport’s few other real characters, Kimi Raikkonen, has chosen to stay on for another couple of seasons.

However, fact is that in losing Fernando Alonso, the sport is today losing a major player.

Love him or loathe him, few can dispute his obvious talent, even if some of it was squandered as the Spaniard opted to get involved in the Machiavellian side of the sport.

Ahead of his final outing, the two-time – could’ve and should’ve been four or five-time – world champion made clear how he wanted to be remembered by future generations of F1 fans.

“I think I am the same driver with the same ambition, and probably same aggressive mode in terms of racing and driving,” he said at an event to mark his F1 finale, “a fighter, a guy that never gives up.

“I’ve been driving very good cars, slower cars, with the same motivation and ambition and love for racing,” he continued. “I race every week of my life, sometimes it’s here in this paddock, some other weekends it’s on a go-kart track, others in sports cars, if not in the video games… I’m a full-time race driver. That’s probably the way I hope people will think about me in the future.

“It has been a privilege to work with friends I will have for the rest of my life,” he smiled. “It’s a strange day, like the last day of school but I will not be here next year when we come back after the next holidays.

“I will be always part of this amazing feeling. Half of my life, 18 years I’ve been with the same people every two weeks travelling around the world, working, racing hard but at the same time enjoying ourselves. Real friendship has been probably the biggest thing of my career and the thing I will remember for the future.”