Fernando Alonso, McLaren, Yas Marina, 2018

Alonso: Being dedicated to F1 meant “no friends, no family”

2018 F1 season

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Fernando Alonso says his dedication to Formula 1 left him with “no friends, no family, no free time, no privacy, no wife, no kids” – but he is open to coming back.

The McLaren driver will start his final race this weekend in Abu Dhabi. Speaking in today’s FIA press conference he said he will miss being at the wheel but not the sacrifices he’s had to make.

“The cars are something special,” said Alonso. “It doesn’t matter if you are 14th, fifth or fighting for victory. If you can be on the podium and win definitely it’s an extra celebration and job.

“But when you go out of there for qualifying or even tomorrow on the free practice and you drive these cars, they are very special. And the amount of technology behind these cars will be difficult to replicate in any other series.

“On the other sides there are negative aspects of Formula 1, especially if you are 18 years here. You dedicate your entire life to Formula 1. You have no friends, no family, no free time, no privacy, no wife, no kids, no nothing. It’s just full dedication if you want to succeed. So I think I have other priorities right now.”

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Despite having won two world championships and 32 races, Alonso said the personal side of the sport is what he cherishes the most.

McLaren, Yas Marina, 2018
McLaren have a special livery for Alonso’s last race
“I think more than races or memories or victories the best thing I have from the F1 time is going to be the people that I work with. The people that I share half of my life: I’m 37 and I raced here 18 years so it’s half of my life with a lot of talented engineers, designers, mechanics, you guys – the media – everyone.

“We share a lot of things over the seasons. I think that’s the best thing that I will always remember about Formula 1, how you approach these kind of races and the philosophy behind a grand prix, the preparation, the discipline in all areas of the team.

“Now, racing in other disciplines, in other series, you realise Formula 1 is a step higher and it’s just trying to find perfection in everything, every two weeks around the world. This is probably the best team and the best memories I will get from here.”

However in response to a question from RaceFans, Alonso admitted he may consider returning to the sport.

“Right now it’s difficult to think about coming back but the door is not closed. The first reason is because I don’t know how I will feel next year. I’ve been doing this my whole life. Maybe next year by April or May I’m desperate on the sofa. Maybe I find a way somehow to come back.

“But it’s not the initial idea. It’s more about myself. If I come back it’s not for any particular reason or deadline or something that has to happen. It’s going to be more how I feel in the middle of next year.”

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Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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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  • 22 comments on “Alonso: Being dedicated to F1 meant “no friends, no family””

    1. For earning 30m a year whilst doing the thing you enjoy most in the world, not the worst trade-off in the world.

      1. But if it means putting aside the second thing you enjoy the most as well as the third and fourth thing, maybe after 18 years you’ll want to change a bit?

      2. @mashiat; we’ll get our violins out for the poor chap shall we?…

    2. The money is obviously great, but I’m sure it feels a lot less nice if you have nobody to share it with, or at least the nice things you can do with the money.

    3. “And the amount of technology behind these cars will be difficult to replicate in any other series.”

      Yes, especially when there’s a GP2 engine behind yours…

      1. maybe he’s talking about the leaders coming up behind McLaren to lap them again?

    4. Out of the things Alonso mentioned (friends, family, free time, privacy, wife and kids) certainly the free time and privacy are the biggest two (and partly affecting the rest), but the rest is more of a choise/personal situation as other drivers have demonstrated.

      Do understand Alonso’s dedication though. He’s passion for racing has never been questioned.

    5. “You have no friends, no family, no free time, no privacy, no wife, no kids, no nothing”… there are drivers who have all of those in varying degrees, so some of that might be on him.

      1. @dubsix it’s a personal effort all that, I’m sure. Maybe Alonso feels he’d not perform the way he likes if he doesn’t give it 100% of his time… I think Rosberg said that during 2016 he had devoted himself completely to the title challenge and that meant his wife had to support everything at home, and that took a toll.

      2. @dubsix

        He was obsessively dedicated to his craft.. That’s all. Looking back at the intensity with which he drove during those Ferrari years took a lot of focus and dedication. It’s hard to say anyone else on the grid wanted to win more than him.

        He’ll definitely be missed. Such an intense competitor and complex character. Whether you like him or dislike him is besides the point. Every story is only richer with a character like him.

    6. Should’ve tried the Hamilton approach ;-)

      1. I dont think Alonso views an Instagram account as his ‘friends, family, wife and kids’

    7. Raikkonen, Vettel and Grosjean manage to have families while racing. Probably more that I’m forgetting. It depends on how you manage your time.

    8. True friendship requires no small amount of trust Fernando…

    9. Alonso is one of those people that for me you like him, but at the same time you dislike him.

      Over the last several years he burnt a good number of bridges with some of the comments that he has made. If you combine his age with those comments a lot of people might look at him a bit harder before they would ask him to take a seat in a car again. There is no denying that he is a great racer but he should have just stayed quiet a lot of times to ensure that a lot of doors that are open in racing are open for him as well.

      1. @docnuke

        ‘the burnt bridges’ myth was doing the rounds before Honda, McLaren, Renault, Toyota, Andretti Racing, all raved about working with him. All big names in the motor industry and racing. He doesn’t want Ferrari and they’ve been just as bad at throwing away championshiops since he left. That only leaves Mercedes who are more corrupt than he is.

    10. He’s still young and doesn’t have to work another day in his life if he didn’t want to. Plenty of time for kids and a wife. In my opinion getting married for a man and having kids before his mid 30’s is a mistake anyway. I’m happy for him that he is getting out.

    11. He is not winning, last few years have been extremely disappointing especially when he was promised and had such high expectations from McLaren and Honda. Also on a more personal level, we dont see his Russian girlfriend during the races anymore so probably that might be the reason.
      Its good to take an year off, relax. I hope he comes back. Kubica, Kimi combacks make me even more hopeful.

    12. Haven’t followed races closely in the mercedes era, but you have to admire his unbelievable points scoring ability. Always seems to extract an amount across a season that does not seem right for the car he is driving. Of all drivers I have seen, only Schumacher had the same trait (1996, 1997, 1998, 2005).

      Not as fast as Hamilton or Senna (Schumacher wasn’t either btw) but so frightingly consistent. An all-time great. If you ask me to pick any driver to put in a competitive car to deliver the championship, I’d pick Alonso.

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