Next up, Alonso was presented with an artwork by Mr Tareq Al Ameri, CEO of Yas Marina Circuit, who also announced that the drivers’ briefing room at the circuit will be named in honour of the Spanish driver. Formula 1 CEO Chase Carey and Managing Director of Operations, Sean Bratches, also presented Alonso with an “Engineered Insanity” artwork signed by drivers and F1 personnel.
Chase Carey: “Sports are built on heroes, champions and stars, and Fernando is all of those and more. You have been a hero to people all around the world. We couldn’t be more appreciative of all that you’ve done for the sport. We hope you will continue to be a part of our family and what makes Formula 1 so special, even if you are not driving any more. It’s been a privilege to have the opportunity to watch you race and watch what you have achieved. This is just a small token of our appreciation of what you’ve meant to Formula 1.”
Fernando Alonso: “Thank you Liberty, thank you Formula 1. Even if I race in different series around the world, my life will always be with Formula 1. I will always be a Formula 1 driver, or ex-Formula 1 driver. My driving style, my philosophy of driving, my driving skills will always be about Formula 1. I fell in love with this sport from a very early age, looking up to my idols. I’m happy that I’ll always be around; not driving, but I’ll always be an F1 fan.”
Will Buxton: How different are you today to the man who walked through the Paddock gates for the first time in 2001?
“Not too different. I’m the same driver, with the same ambition, the same aggressive mode for racing. I matured as a person, like everyone does from 18 to 37 years old. I’m a little more confident now; when I arrived in 2001, I was up against the best engineers, the best designers, the best drivers. Everyone is the best here in the Paddock and you feel small. Now I have the confidence in myself, knowing that I can do the job and drive at a good level.”
Federica Masolin: How would you like to be remembered?
“As a fighter, a guy that never gives up. I’ve driven very good cars and slower cars, but with the same motivation, the same ambition and the same love for racing. I race every week of my life. Sometimes here in this Paddock, other weekends on a go-kart track or sportscars, or even video games. I’m a full-time racing driver. I hope that’s how people will think about me in the future.”
Fernando Alonso: “After these videos, and all these moments, it has to be the last race. If we need to repeat everything, it will be weird! Who knows? Anyway, I’m extremely happy and proud. I’ve been working with everyone in that video for many years, and it has been a privilege to drive and work with friends that I’ll have for the rest of my life, not only in Formula 1. I’ve built many relationships that are way beyond car racing and it’s a strange day. Like the last day of school. I will not be here after we come back from the next holidays, but I will always be part of this amazing sport. Half of my life was here, with the same people, travelling around the world every two weeks, working and racing hard, but at the same time enjoying ourselves. You spend a lot of time together and build some real friendships.”