Fernando Alonso 'embarrassed' by F1 farewell tributes

ABU DHABI — Fernando Alonso says he wants to be “invisible” until his farewell Formula One weekend is done and dusted.

The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is Alonso’s last before leaving the championship, which he is doing to focus on other opportunities. He will complete the World Endurance Championship with Toyota next season and contest his second Indy 500 in May.

There has been a lot of attention given to the two-time world champion this weekend. He was front and centre in Thursday’s first drivers’ press conference and the Yas Marina circuit has painted and decorated and renamed its drivers’ briefing room in his honour. There was also a party for Alonso in the paddock on Saturday evening.

During that event, Alonso said: “All these tributes are a bit embarrassing for me. I’m shier than people think and I want it go by quickly. I would like to be invisible until Monday, but I’ll have to be here and talk a bit.”

Early on in the event, the microphone briefly stopped working as Alonso was speaking.

When it started working again Alonso delivered a deadpan: “It’s OK, that’s the story of my career…”

Alonso has never officially labelled his departure from F1 as retirement and has made it clear the door is open for a return if McLaren rediscovers competitive form in the future. McLaren CEO Zak Brown says Alonso will be kept on speed dial next year.

He was already talking about a possible comeback on Saturday, saying: “I think next year I needed a break and I needed to find again motivation, to relax a little bit — it’s been a busy year.

“But in 2020 I’m open for different things. Maybe a full season in IndyCar, a full season in Formula One again. You know there are things that are in the view.”

Alonso will start his final race from 15th on the grid.