Fernando Alonso has opened up on what he’ll miss most in Formula 1 and how experiences in other categories have allowed him to appreciate the sport more as he prepares for his retirement after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The two-time F1 world champion will bid goodbye after the 2018 season finale following 18 years in the sport as he targets new challenges next year including the final part of his Triple Crown at the 2019 Indianapolis 500.

F1 2018 Car Comparison

While Alonso will remain part of the McLaren fold, having secured his return to the Indy 500 with a McLaren Racing entry, he will effectively retire from F1 this weekend despite not ruling out a potential return in the future.

Reflecting on both the highs and lows of his F1 career, Alonso says having spent time racing in both multiple sportscar and IndyCar disciplines across the past two years, it has given him a greater appreciation of the level and expertise required in F1.

“I think more than races or memories or victories I think the best thing that I have from F1 is going to be the people that I worked with and the people that I shared half of my life with,” Alonso said. “I am 37 I have been racing here 18 years which is half of my life spent with talented engineers, designers, mechanics, media, everyone.

“We shared a lot of things and a lot of days over the season. I think that is the best thing that I will always remember about Formula 1.

“How you approach these kinds of races and the philosophy behind a Grand Prix, the preparation, the discipline in all areas of the team.

“Racing in other disciplines and other series you realise that Formula 1 is a step higher, trying to find perfection in everything and every weekend every two weeks around the world. This is probably the best memories I will get from here.”

Regarding his targets for his final F1 race, Alonso has already accepted McLaren is unlikely to produce a final flourish at the Yas Marina Circuit but is hopeful of maximising his performance to help the Woking-based team defend sixth place in the F1 world constructors’ standings.

“I have to be in Bahrain on Monday morning so the party is not going to be too long,” he said about his post-race plans. “I will enjoy the race, that will be the first priority as I know we are not competitive enough to fight for big things.

“Nevertheless we are fighting Force India for the constructors’ championship so that will be nice to succeed in that and finish in front of them.

“In qualifying even if Q3 is a dream, too optimistic, but we’ll try to do some good laps, good runs, and feel happy with the laps whatever the position is. That’s the goal.”

McLaren has a 14-point advantage over Force India in the F1 teams’ standings going into the final round, while the British squad trails Haas by 28 points in fifth place.