Fernando Alonso, Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren team photograph, 2018

McLaren drivers aim to leave F1 on a high in final starts

2018 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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McLaren drivers Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne say they are aiming to depart Formula 1 on a high this weekend as they start their final races in the series.

Vandoorne, who will move to Formula E team HWA after being dropped by McLaren, says he has “mixed emotions” ahead of his final start for them.

“Although I’ve spent two years as a Formula 1 driver with McLaren, I’ve been with the team for five years and call many of them my friends,” he said.

“I’ve built a great relationship with McLaren and it’s been a significant part of my life. My final grand prix as a McLaren driver on Sunday will be sentimental, but also the right time to say goodbye to this chapter in my career.

“I want to leave Abu Dhabi on a high, so we’ll be putting everything we can into maximising our weekend and getting the most out of it.”

While Alonso has called time on his F1 career for now at least, he will continue to drive for McLaren which is entering a car for him in next year’s Indianapolis 500.

“Abu Dhabi will certainly be a very emotional race for me, as it will be the end of a long and happy 17 years in Formula 1,” he said. “The time has come for me to move on, but I’m looking forward to ending the season – and my F1 career – on a positive note.

“I’m also pleased that my relationship with McLaren will continue with the Indy 500, and there will be more new challenges together. There are very exciting things ahead, and I’m enthusiastic for what the future will bring. For now, I’m not ruling anything out.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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20 comments on “McLaren drivers aim to leave F1 on a high in final starts”

  1. Can’t help but feel a bit downbeat about McLaren, and I am a fan of the team. Since 2013 things have been going steadily downhill, not even Alonso managed to break the spiral, and next year’s lineup of Sainz and Norris looks like a Sauber line-up (hell, Sauber’s next year pairing is probably better, at least looks more exciting).

    I miss the Hakkinen, Hamilton, Button, Raikkonen days of McLaren…

    1. As a Williams fan all I can say is that you never get used to that downbeat feeling you speak of…

    2. Pedro – Button drove for McLaren in 2013 and for the three following years while the team declined significantly; no race wins following Hamilton’s departure. And there is little sign of the helix of decline reversing.

  2. It rains (yes, in Abu Dhabi), the leaders collect each other in the first lap. The midfield struggles with tyres. An inspired bit of strategy from McLaren, and Stoffel Vandoorne wins the final GP of 2018! :-)

    1. +1000

      it will be the highlight of the 2018 championship for decades to come.

    2. @MaliceCooper Not going to happen, though. The rain I mean. 99% guaranteed that each session will be dry throughout every season. The same with Bahrain.

  3. Define “high”.

    1. @phylyp stoned, you know

      1. @m-bagattini – LOL, seems like that’s the only high this year’s McLaren can achieve.

        So, will Vandoorne be bringing pre-race brownies? :-) [yeah, he’s Belgian, poetic license]

        Or, given they’re in the Middle East, will the drivers actually go and stone their car?!

  4. I can’t wrap my head around what has happened at McLaren. Ignoring the Honda divorce, which with hindsight looks like a terrible decision, the car was relatively competitive in Australia, yet they’re nowhere now. Car development used to be their strength.

    For their sake I hope they’ve thrown their effort into the 2019 car, but then again I can’t get excited about their driver line-up – Norris doesn’t feel ready for F1 and Sainz as a senior driver uninspiring. I don’t think either of them would have fared better against Alonso than Vandoorne has in that environment.

    1. I agree with you there Victor, Mclaren used to be at the forefront of development. To the point that they’d make a car which was unreliable and try and dial in the reliability later. This cost them dearly sometimes but paid off in others.
      Somewhere along the line they started looking backwards, what is their actual direction now? What is their design philosophy? I don’t think they have one, despite its catastrophic issues maybe size zero should have been continued with.

    2. Remember how they turned the 2009 car from a back marker to a race winner. Things changed, including the personnel at the top.

  5. What a basket case of a team McLaren has been after the revelation of SPYGATE. It seems that the main reason they lost competitiveness is because they cannot copy Ferrari anymore. It is just a matter of time that Williams and McLaren will be an embarrassment to their history by being consistently at the bottom of the pack unable to go to Q2 in qualifying…oh wait!

    1. They had good cars in 10, 11, and 12. They lost their way with the formula change. Can’t blame it on spygate or not copying Ferrari.

  6. Now we can fight

    1. … with Williams for P18.

  7. It would be great if both drivers were able to fight for points in the second tier and maybe come away with a double points finish.
    On another note, I’d like to see Alonso go into the broadcast booth, as his insights and straight forward comments would really make the broadcast interesting.

  8. On a high? It’s a Yoke, a YOKE!

  9. Im looking forward to Mclaren and Bottas proving everyone wrong in the last race.

    1. Dream on mate.

      Mclaren have effectively ran the same car from the start of the season, both Fernando and Stoff have said so, and no one from management has denied this. The car was “competitive”-ish at the start of the year, but if you don’t develop, you get left behind, which is exactly whats happened. Now they are only ahead for Williams, which is another pathetic story on its own.

      Bottas? Sorry. He is not as quick as Lewis and I can’t see him find those extra couple tenths anytime soon. Sure, perhaps the car isn’t designed on dialed into his exact style, but he knew that going into Merc. Credit to him though, he hasn’t moaned about anything, he’s acknowledged he isn’t as quick and needs to work harder. I can respect that, but he isn’t as quick as Lewis, perhaps on a couple circuits, but over a whole season, stats speak for themselves.

      The best we can hope for is a Ricciardo podium (win would be ideal) c/w Shoey for Red Bull and both Mclaren’s in the points.

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