IG­NI­TION

F1 Racing (UK) - - CONTENTS - @F1rac­ing _mag face­book.com/ f1rac­ing­mag in­sta­gram.com/ f1_rac­ing_­mag An­thony Rowl­in­son

A bit­ter­sweet farewell to Fer­nando Alonso

Anger of course. Frus­tra­tion, too. But most of all, re­lief. These have been the feel­ings shared be­tween F1 Rac­ing friends and fam­ily as news of Fer­nando Alonso’s de­par­ture from F1 sank in.

The anger and frus­tra­tion are easy enough to un­der­stand: as both Peter Wind­sor (p24) and An­drew Ben­son (p36) elo­quently de­scribe this month, a driver so richly skilled and ag­gres­sively com­pet­i­tive should surely have more to his ac­count than two world ti­tles and 32 grand prix vic­to­ries. This is not to de­mean these con­sid­er­able achieve­ments, for Alonso’s place in the record books along­side fel­low two-time champs Al­berto As­cari, Gra­ham Hill, Jim Clark, Emer­son Fit­ti­paldi and Mika Häkki­nen is se­cure and es­timable.

Yet those three se­cond-place ti­tle fin­ishes for Fer­rari in 2010, 2012 and 2013 with the ‘joint-points se­cond’ (with Lewis Hamil­ton) in ’07, speak to what might have been – and to what maybe should have been. The sense of re­lief comes from some­where else – from an ac­cep­tance that an un­fair strug­gle will soon come to an end and that new ad­ven­tures await. So in that re­spect those of us who re­vere Alonso’s war­rior ways can be happy that he will find other are­nas in which to rage for vic­tory.

This, he ad­mits, is what has come to mat­ter to him most at this stage of his ca­reer – win­ning, or at the very least be­ing in the fight for vic­tory. With­out that op­por­tu­nity, ab­sent since 2013, the ap­peal of sim­ply rac­ing in F1 for its own sake could never ap­peal.

And here we re­turn, alas, to anger, for F1 is less­ened, even cheap­ened for Alonso’s loss. I am by no means alone in be­liev­ing he rep­re­sented the last of a cer­tain kind of old-school racer in F1: ul­tra­fast but not dirty; worldly, com­pli­cated, ca­pa­ble of vol­canic rages, and, yes, a lit­tle bit dark. So while we wish the su­per-promis­ing Pierre Gasly ev­ery suc­cess with his Red Bull Rac­ing de­but next year, how much more com­pelling would have been the war (for that’s what it would have been) be­tween Max and Fer­nando, had Alonso got the gig…?

It is to the eter­nal dis­credit of F1’s team bosses and power-bro­kers that some­how room for Alonso wasn’t found in a top team. And to those who’ve opined that he’s “a bit dif­fi­cult”, when was For­mula 1 ever meant to be easy? It was once – eas­ily for­got­ten – rou­tinely lethal, which very as­pect did so much to in­fuse F1 with its heroic qual­i­ties.

Per­haps there’s no room for such a brash and fear­less char­ac­ter in con­tem­po­rary, sanitised, For­mula 1 and maybe, there­fore, Fer­nando is bet­ter off far away from its of­ten my­opic con­cerns.

What­ever your view, come 2019 we’ll have one fewer hero to cel­e­brate in F1, as one of its most ex­cep­tional play­ers leaves the field.

Adios, Fer­nando. You will be missed.

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