Fernando Alonso says his final Formula 1 weekend was capped off by a “magic” gesture from Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel after the end of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Hamilton held off Vettel for victory in the season finale at the Yas Marina Circuit, with Alonso coming home 11th in what is his final grand prix. On the slowing-down lap, both Hamilton and Vettel were doing donuts in front of grandstands when Alonso joined them, and the pair flanked the Spaniard to the pit straight before carrying out more celebrations in tandem.
“It was magic, it was magic,” Alonso said. “The whole weekend has been amazing and the in-lap was not planned. I saw them doing donuts at Turn 8 and then I saw one car on the left and one car on the right and they kept going like this until the finish line.
“It was a nice touch by them, so thank you Sebastian and thank you Lewis. They are both great champions and I feel very privileged to race with them; it was a great race to be fighting with the Haas drivers to the very end.”
Alonso says it has not yet hit home that he has finished his final grand prix, given how hectic the weekend in Abu Dhabi has been.
“I think I need a couple of days to realize the whole weekend, because I have been very busy and I haven’t had five minutes for myself to think about it,” he said, “but it has been a very good weekend.”
“I think in a couple of days (it will sink in). The race was a normal race, fighting for the tire management, the fuel saving, all these things, and fighting for points until the end, until the last lap.
“I had really no time in the weekend. This morning has been the busiest morning ever in a grand prix. I tried to sit down and check my telephone and after 30 seconds (press officer) Silvia (Hoffer-Frangipane) was coming or someone from the team knocked on the door and I had to say hello to a new person! It has been very, very busy, so I think I need two or three days to check and realize all the things that I lived this weekend. It will always be in my heart.”
Alonso continued to hedge as to whether this marked a final goodbye to F1.
“I consider this the last race. Who knows what the future will bring, but for now this is the last,” he said. “I feel very happy and very privileged with all the success that I had over the years, driving for amazing teams. Coming from a very normal family from the north of Spain, a go-kart driver, eventually you find yourself in Formula 1 and winning championships and 17 years of magic in this sport. So I’m happy for that, very proud, and see you soon.”
Alonso’s next event is only 12 hours away, with the Spaniard set to swap cars with Jimmie Johnson in Bahrain on Monday, and he admits there is the possibility it could open the door to a future NASCAR drive.
“I think with Jimmie at the moment there is quite a relaxed environment, but tomorrow on track we will be very competitive. I am ready to drive that NASCAR car to the limit and to have some fun. I’m sure he will do the same with F1. We’ll see. I love racing in America, there is no secret to that, and let’s see how this car feels and how much fun we have…”