Alonso: 'Remember me as a fighter, as a man that never gives up'

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Fernando Alonso hopes his legacy in F1 to go beyond his 32 wins and two world titles and be defined first and foremost by his passion and tenacious fighting spirit.

The Formula 1 community came together last night at Yas Marina to celebrate the 37-year-old Spaniard who will close the curtain this evening on his career in Grand Prix racing, although Alonso will remain in close contact with the sport thanks to an ongoing relationship with McLaren.

In a video message projected on a large screen, team bosses and drivers - past and present - paid a heartfelt tribute to the man they had once guided or raced against, while F1 CEO Chase Carey presented Alonso with a special 'Engineered Insanity' piece of artwork.

"On behalf of Formula 1, I want to say how special this is. Sports are built on heroes, champions, stars, and Fernando is all of those and more," said Carey.

"You’ve been a hero to people around the world, you have fans around the world.

"We couldn’t be more appreciative of everything you have done for the sport, and we hope you will continue to if not race in a car with us, continue to be a part of our family and be a part of what makes Formula 1 so special.

"It’s been a privilege to have the opportunity to watch you race, and to watch what you’ve done and watch what you’ve achieved."

A moved Alonso received the plaudits and then paid a tribute of his own to his 17-year life in F1's fast lane.

"Even if I will try and I will drive different series, and I will try to race around the world, I think my life will always be with Formula 1. I will always be a Formula 1 driver, or an ex-Formula 1 driver," Alonso said.

"My driving style, my philosophy on driving, my skills to drive a racing car will always be behind a Formula 1. I love this sport. I fell in love at a very early age, looking at my icons and my idols.

"I’m happy that I will be around, maybe not driving the car but I will always be a Formula 1 fan."

Asked how he would like to be remembered, Alonso underlined his character and passion rather than his achievements.

"As a fighter, as a guy that never gives up. I’ve been driving very good cars, I’ve been driving slower cars but with the same motivation, the same ambition and the same love for racing," he said.

"I race every week of my life. Sometimes it’s here in this paddock, some other weekends it’s on a go-kart track, some 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."

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