Dear Fernando Alonso, so, no F1 for you this year? Farewell, then, you mad, bad, cunning, quick, sharp, handsome, troublesome bastard. I hope you don’t mind me calling you a bastard, it’s just that in our modern, easily offended world, you don’t tend to see sportspeople who are so totally focused on victory that they’re openly happy – proud, even – to show badass sides of their personalities like you do.
And what a personality! Out of the car, the tousled hair, the musketeer beard; you even carried off a bandana back in the Renault days, something only Tupac could get away with. But in the car, you were dynamite. Brave, consistent and ruthless. Maybe not always quickest over one lap, but in the right car, quickest from lights to flag. If Murray Walker sounds like he commentates with his trousers on fire, I’ve often thought the same about you when your radio messages are played out. It’s like you drive angry – demanding to win.
That’s also not to say you haven’t been humble over the last 18 years; coming from the remote Spanish region of Asturias – a bit like Cornwall – taught you humility. You never looked at home with the Monaco and Switzerland tax exiles. I always respected that about you – you’d rather pay a hefty tax bill and live happily in Spain than live lonely but rich in soulless Monte Carlo, convincing yourself you’re having an amazing time.
But happiness has been a bit thin on track in recent years. Actually, for the last ten years, ever since you left Flavio’s Renault. Ah, good old Flav – I’m pretty sure he’s the only person who ever really understood you in F1. Shame he couldn’t stick around longer, what with that race-fixing scandal. By the way, did you really not know your teammate was going to crash to allow you to win the Singapore GP? You can tell us now that you’re off! Only kidding mate, they didn’t call you ‘Teflonso’ for nothing!
If only you’d stuck with McLaren after you left Renault. You (probably) would’ve won the 2008 World Championship. And if only you’d signed that Red Bull contract for 2009, you (probably) would’ve won the four titles that went Vettel’s way from 2010 to 2013. That would have equalled Michael Schumacher’s championships by the age of 33. Promise fulfilled, job done.
Instead, you’re leaving F1 – for 2019 at least – with just the two titles from 2005 and 2006. It just seems such a waste for the best driver of your generation. I get why. Since 2015 you’ve been trolling round in an uncompetitive McLaren, and while it was easy to blame your Honda engines for the first three years (and did you ever), this season’s switch to decent Renault power has proved that the problems at Woking run deep.
You’ve probably lost track of who’s been shunted out and who’s still at McLaren, Fernando, I know I have, but as it’s likely to be at least three years before they are winners again I really can’t blame you for cutting your losses and running, although McLaren did move heaven and earth to get you to stay. Paying for your Indy 500 programme, running your beachwear brand on its cars, hiring and firing to please you. That was worth it, then.
But that’s you, isn’t it? You’ll do anything and everything to win, whatever the cost, just like your hero Ayrton Senna did. But while he was revered for his uncompromising approach, you’ve had career doors shut in your face. Let’s consider, each of the top three teams has a seat free for next year. Mercedes could have offered you its drive but the last time you had Hamilton as a teammate it didn’t work out too well, and besides, Mercedes had to pay a lot of money to help clear up that mess at McLaren in 2007 and people there have long memories. Ferrari? The management has changed since those you fell out with in 2014, but the newbies also remember what you said about their inability to win titles. Not to mention how nervous Vettel would be of going up against you. And then there’s Red Bull. The team best equipped to handle your implacable will, but who is it powered by next year? Oh yeah, Honda.
So you’re either too good for, or have bad blood with, all three teams. What a shame. For everyone. Well, it’s no good dwelling on the past, Nando. Have a great season in IndyCar; apparently anyone can win over there as the competition isn’t strangled by money, so let your talent shine. Win the Indy 500 and complete the triple crown like you’ve always dreamed of and maybe, along the way, you might find the fulfilment you’ve been looking for. And when there’s nothing left to fight for, maybe you can give the hard-nosed bastard act a rest, eh? We’ll miss you. Peace.