McLaren-Honda star Fernando Alonso says he will not linger in Formula One, adding that the Le Mans 24 Hours are likely to provide him with his necessary racing fix once he bows out of grand prix action.
Having made his F1 debut aged 20 with Minardi in 2001, Alonso is one of the most experienced driver on the current grid with 260 starts, two world titles, 32 wins, and 97 podium finishes to his name.
But in the wake of McLaren-Honda’s travails over the past two years, rumours of retirement have been swirling around the Spaniard, who holds a contract until the end of 2017.
“When time has come, I’ll leave F1, I know it,” Alonso told French newspaper L’Equipe. “When you are no longer fast enough, when you don’t like it anymore, when you cannot cope with the demands, you know [it’s time to move on].
“Still, when you look at drivers like Raikkonen, Button, or Massa, it feels like these guys could go on for ever, but I probably won’t be like them.
“At the moment, I feel like I’m coming to the end of my dream. When I was a little boy, my dad built a go-kart that had a livery inspired from the McLaren-Honda. Now, I am driving a McLaren-Honda. I have the feeling to come full circle in a romantic way.”
Alonso, who is turning 35 this summer, adds that he will not stay idle on the sidelines for too long though.
“It’s still too early to talk about what I’ll do after F1. The life of a grand prix driver is very demanding. I am focussed on F1 365 days a year, whether it is driving the car or training. Once I retire from the sport, I think I’ll enjoy returning to a more normal life. At first.
“Then, I’m sure I’ll miss the drive of competing as well as the adrenaline rush. That’s what my life has been all about. It’s very likely that I’ll keep racing in another series, albeit one less time-consuming. Le Mans would be perfect, as you don’t have to be away from home all year long.”