Top 20 Stories of 2018
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Top 20 Stories of 2018

Top Stories of 2018, #2: Alonso steps away amid McLaren woes

Next in our countdown of the top motorsport stories of 2018, we look at Fernando Alonso's decision to retire from Formula 1 at the end of the season amid McLaren's continued struggles.

Top Stories of 2018, #2: Alonso steps away amid McLaren woes

Did he quit or was he pushed out? That was the question is everyone's mind since Fernando Alonso announced his retirement from F1 at the end of the 2018 season.

Following 17 seasons in grand prix racing, the two-time world champion decided to put an end - for now at least - to his F1 career after year another season that failed to deliver what he had hoped for since rejoining McLaren for the start of the 2015 season.

In the end, McLaren's reunion with Honda - a partnership that both parties hoped would help them relive their glory days - marked the beginning of the end for Alonso's F1 career, a career marked by a lot of success but also by poor choices and bad luck.

"After 17 wonderful years in this amazing sport, it's time for me to make a change and move on. I have enjoyed every single minute of those incredible seasons and I cannot thank enough the people who have contributed to make them all so special," said Alonso in his announcement.

"Let's see what the future brings; new exciting challenges are around the corner. I'm having one of the happiest times ever in my life but I need to go on exploring new adventures."

Since his announcement, Alonso has insisted that he had no regrets about the decision and that it was the right time to leave, suggesting often that this was not the F1 he had dreamed to be a part of.

While many, including Alonso himself, believe he would not have retired had he been in a competitive car fighting for victories, it's hard to disagree with the Spaniard's reasoning for not wanting to continue in F1.

Fernando Alonso, McLaren MP4-22

Fernando Alonso, McLaren MP4-22

Photo by: Charles Coates / LAT Images

After winning his two titles with Renault, Alonso's move to McLaren for 2007 seemed like an obvious choice and few would have objected the decision: the team was favourite among the favourites for the championships and he would have a rookie teammate in Lewis Hamilton.

How that story unfolded is well known by now, and the path Alonso followed since then led to leaving a legacy of a career that could have been much more successful than it was.

Two largely fruitless years at Renault followed his McLaren exit, before a promising start to life as a Ferrari driver in 2010 led to losing the title in the final race thanks to a strategic mistake by Ferrari.

The following year produced just one win and fourth place in the standings, but Ferrari was back in the championship hunt in 2012 and but for a dramatic recovery from Sebastian Vettel in the final race of the season after being spun at the start, Alonso would have been champion for the third time.

It was not to be, however, and he would never have a real chance of fighting for the title again after that.

He finished runner-up to Vettel again in 2013, but this time the battle was not even close, with the Red Bull driver dominating the year with 13 wins. Ferrari's decline continued the following season, Alonso finishing the year win-less, down in sixth position in the standings and feeling his future did not belong at the Scuderia anymore.

And so he joined McLaren again for the 2014 season after the Woking team had announced its plan to re-unite with Honda from 2015.

It didn't take long for things to go wrong for Alonso at McLaren, starting with the bizarre accident during pre-season testing that meant he was forced to miss the first two races of the season. That was probably not the worst part of Alonso's year, though, as Honda struggled to get to terms with its hybrid engine, leaving Alonso on 11 points at the end of the season, the Spaniard's worst points tally excluding his debut year with Minardi in 2001.

Fernando Alonso, McLaren MP4-30 Honda

Fernando Alonso, McLaren MP4-30 Honda

Photo by: Alastair Staley / LAT Images

Still, these were early days for Honda, so the feeling was the Japanese engine supplier would get much better in 2016. It was not the case. Honda made a slight improvement, but it was still far from the position Alonso dreamed of: 10th in the standings with 54 points.

As tension continued to rise in the McLaren-Honda partnership, the start of 2017 turned into another disaster, with the power unit hitting problems right away due to the design of its oil tank.

Matters would not improve much throughout the year and, with both McLaren and Alonso fed up of the situation, the team decided to split with Honda - whose engine also let him down as he fought for victory in his maiden outing in the Indy 500 - and switch to Renault engines for 2018.

While the French power unit was not up to Mercedes' or Ferrari's standards, it highlighted the fact that McLaren's problem was not just the engine, with Alonso's best result of the year coming in the first race in Australia. While the two-champion continued to drive superbly, his best moment of the year would not be in F1 but in the WEC, the Spaniard winning the Le Mans 24 Hours in his first attempt with Toyota.

While speculation about his future was rife for several months, there was simply no room for Alonso in a competitive team, so he faced the decision of staying with McLaren for another year or leaving F1 altogether.

Another season fighting in the midfield didn't look like an appealing prospect for a driver rated as highly as Alonso, so in the end, it appears he did make the right decision. But was it the one he wanted to make? Probably not.

Click here to view the Top 20 Stories countdown so far.

Fernando Alonso, Minardi
Fernando Alonso, Minardi
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Photo by: Motorsport Images

Fernando Alonso
Fernando Alonso
2/106

Photo by: Minardi Formula 1

Fernando Alonso, Minardi
Fernando Alonso, Minardi
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Photo by: Motorsport Images

Fernando Alonso, Minardi
Fernando Alonso, Minardi
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Photo by: Rainer W. Schlegelmilch / Motorsport Images

Fernando Alonso, Minardi
Fernando Alonso, Minardi
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Photo by: Motorsport Images

Fernando Alonso in Renault F1 garage area
Fernando Alonso in Renault F1 garage area
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Photo by: Brousseau Photo

Fernando Alonso and Jarno Trulli with the new Renault F1 R23
Fernando Alonso and Jarno Trulli with the new Renault F1 R23
7/106

Photo by: Renault F1

Renault F1 team cheer Fernando Alonso
Renault F1 team cheer Fernando Alonso
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Photo by: Motorsport Images

Medical staff attend to Fernando Alonso, Renault F1 Team trackside
Medical staff attend to Fernando Alonso, Renault F1 Team trackside
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Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

Fernando Alonso, Renault Renault F1 Team R23, sitting down with the wrecked car
Fernando Alonso, Renault Renault F1 Team R23, sitting down with the wrecked car
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Photo by: Motorsport Images

Fernando Alonso
Fernando Alonso
11/106

Photo by: Motorsport Images

Fernando Alonso
Fernando Alonso
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Photo by: Motorsport Images

Fernando Alonso
Fernando Alonso
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Photo by: Motorsport Images

Fernando Alonso
Fernando Alonso
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Photo by: Motorsport Images

Fernando Alonso
Fernando Alonso
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Photo by: Motorsport Images

Fernando Alonso
Fernando Alonso
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Photo by: Michelin

Fernando Alonso
Fernando Alonso
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Photo by: Motorsport Images

Fernando Alonso
Fernando Alonso
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Photo by: Motorsport Images

Fernando Alonso
Fernando Alonso
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Photo by: Motorsport Images

Fernando Alonso
Fernando Alonso
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Photo by: Dave Dyer

Fernando Alonso
Fernando Alonso
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Photo by: XPB Images

Race winner Fernando Alonso, Renault R25
Race winner Fernando Alonso, Renault R25
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Photo by: Sutton Images

Fernando Alonso
Fernando Alonso
23/106

Photo by: XPB Images

Fernando Alonso, Renault F1 Team R25
Fernando Alonso, Renault F1 Team R25
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Photo by: Sutton Images

Pole winner Fernando Alonso celebrates
Pole winner Fernando Alonso celebrates
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Photo by: Motorsport Images

Race winner Fernando Alonso celebrates with Flavio Briatore
Race winner Fernando Alonso celebrates with Flavio Briatore
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Photo by: XPB Images

Fernando Alonso
Fernando Alonso
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Photo by: XPB Images

Fernando Alonso
Fernando Alonso
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Photo by: Motorsport Images

Podium: champagne for Fernando Alonso
Podium: champagne for Fernando Alonso
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Photo by: Motorsport Images

2006 F1 World Champion Fernando Alonso celebrates
2006 F1 World Champion Fernando Alonso celebrates
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Photo by: Motorsport Images

Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button
Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button
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Photo by: XPB Images

Fernando Alonso and Michael Schumacher
Fernando Alonso and Michael Schumacher
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Photo by: XPB Images

Fernando Alonso, McLaren Mercedes, Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber F1 Team
Fernando Alonso, McLaren Mercedes, Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber F1 Team
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Photo by: XPB Images

Fernando Alonso, McLaren Mercedes, MP4-22
Fernando Alonso, McLaren Mercedes, MP4-22
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Photo by: XPB Images

Podium: champagne for Fernando Alonso
Podium: champagne for Fernando Alonso
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Photo by: XPB Images

Fernando Alonso, McLaren Mercedes, MP4-22
Fernando Alonso, McLaren Mercedes, MP4-22
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Photo by: XPB Images

Fernando Alonso, McLaren Mercedes
Fernando Alonso, McLaren Mercedes
37/106

Photo by: XPB Images

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren Mercedes, Fernando Alonso, McLaren Mercedes
Lewis Hamilton, McLaren Mercedes, Fernando Alonso, McLaren Mercedes
38/106

Photo by: XPB Images

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren Mercedes, Fernando Alonso, McLaren Mercedes
Lewis Hamilton, McLaren Mercedes, Fernando Alonso, McLaren Mercedes
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Photo by: XPB Images

Fernando Alonso, Renault F1 Team R28, leads David Coulthard, Red Bull Racing RB4
Fernando Alonso, Renault F1 Team R28, leads David Coulthard, Red Bull Racing RB4
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Photo by: Charles Coates / Motorsport Images

Fernando Alonso, Renault R28
Fernando Alonso, Renault R28
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Photo by: Sutton Images

Fernando Alonso, Renault R28
Fernando Alonso, Renault R28
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Photo by: Sutton Images

Fernando Alonso, Renault F1 Team
Fernando Alonso, Renault F1 Team
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Photo by: XPB Images

Fernando Alonso, Renault F1 Team, R28
Fernando Alonso, Renault F1 Team, R28
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Photo by: XPB Images

Fernando Alonso, Renault F1 Team
Fernando Alonso, Renault F1 Team
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Photo by: XPB Images

Fernando Alonso, Renault R29
Fernando Alonso, Renault R29
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Photo by: Sutton Images

Fernando Alonso, Renault F1 Team
Fernando Alonso, Renault F1 Team
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Photo by: XPB Images

Fernando Alonso, Renault F1 Team
Fernando Alonso, Renault F1 Team
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Photo by: XPB Images

Fernando Alonso, Renault F1 Team
Fernando Alonso, Renault F1 Team
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Photo by: XPB Images

Fernando Alonso, Renault R29
Fernando Alonso, Renault R29
50/106

Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

Fernando Alonso, Renault F1 Team
Fernando Alonso, Renault F1 Team
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Photo by: XPB Images

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari F10
Fernando Alonso, Ferrari F10
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Photo by: Andrew Ferraro / Motorsport Images

Race winner Fernando Alonso, Ferrari
Race winner Fernando Alonso, Ferrari
53/106

Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

Felipe Massa, Ferrari F10, Fernando Alonso, Ferrari F10
Felipe Massa, Ferrari F10, Fernando Alonso, Ferrari F10
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Photo by: Charles Coates / Motorsport Images

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari F10 leads Felipe Massa, Ferrari F10
Fernando Alonso, Ferrari F10 leads Felipe Massa, Ferrari F10
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Photo by: Sutton Images

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari F10
Fernando Alonso, Ferrari F10
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Photo by: Motorsport Images

Fernando Alonso, Scuderia Ferrari leads Mark Webber, Red Bull Racing
Fernando Alonso, Scuderia Ferrari leads Mark Webber, Red Bull Racing
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Photo by: XPB Images

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari F10
Fernando Alonso, Ferrari F10
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Photo by: Sutton Images

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari
Fernando Alonso, Ferrari
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Photo by: Andrew Ferraro / Motorsport Images

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari F150
Fernando Alonso, Ferrari F150
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Photo by: Motorsport Images

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari F150 Italia, 1st position, kisses his trophy on the podium
Fernando Alonso, Ferrari F150 Italia, 1st position, kisses his trophy on the podium
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Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

Fernando Alonso, Scuderia Ferrari
Fernando Alonso, Scuderia Ferrari
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Photo by: XPB Images

Fernando Alonso, Scuderia Ferrari and Felipe Massa, Scuderia Ferrari
Fernando Alonso, Scuderia Ferrari and Felipe Massa, Scuderia Ferrari
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Photo by: XPB Images

Fernando Alonso, Scuderia Ferrari
Fernando Alonso, Scuderia Ferrari
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Photo by: XPB Images

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari F2012
Fernando Alonso, Ferrari F2012
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Photo by: Sutton Images

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari
Fernando Alonso, Ferrari
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Photo by: Ercole Colombo

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari
Fernando Alonso, Ferrari
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Photo by: XPB Images

Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso, Scuderia Ferrari
Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso, Scuderia Ferrari
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Photo by: Ferrari Media Center

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari leads team mate Felipe Massa, Ferrari
Fernando Alonso, Ferrari leads team mate Felipe Massa, Ferrari
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Photo by: XPB Images

Andrea Stella, Ferrari Race Engineer with Fernando Alonso, Ferrari on the grid
Andrea Stella, Ferrari Race Engineer with Fernando Alonso, Ferrari on the grid
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Photo by: XPB Images

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari
Fernando Alonso, Ferrari
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Photo by: XPB Images

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari F138
Fernando Alonso, Ferrari F138
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Photo by: Sutton Images

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari celebrates his third position on the podium
Fernando Alonso, Ferrari celebrates his third position on the podium
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Photo by: XPB Images

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari F138
Fernando Alonso, Ferrari F138
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Photo by: XPB Images

Fernando Alonso, Scuderia Ferrari
Fernando Alonso, Scuderia Ferrari
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Photo by: XPB Images

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari F138
Fernando Alonso, Ferrari F138
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Photo by: XPB Images

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari F138
Fernando Alonso, Ferrari F138
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Photo by: XPB Images

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari F14T
Fernando Alonso, Ferrari F14T
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Photo by: Charles Coates / Motorsport Images

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari
Fernando Alonso, Ferrari
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Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari F14 T, Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari F14 T
Fernando Alonso, Ferrari F14 T, Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari F14 T
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Photo by: Sutton Images

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari F14-T
Fernando Alonso, Ferrari F14-T
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Photo by: XPB Images

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari F14-T
Fernando Alonso, Ferrari F14-T
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Photo by: XPB Images

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari F14-T
Fernando Alonso, Ferrari F14-T
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Photo by: XPB Images

Fernando Alonso, McLaren Honda
Fernando Alonso, McLaren Honda
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Photo by: McLaren

Fernando Alonso and Ron Dennis, Chairman & CEO of McLaren
Fernando Alonso and Ron Dennis, Chairman & CEO of McLaren
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Photo by: McLaren

Fernando Alonso, McLaren MP4-30
Fernando Alonso, McLaren MP4-30
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Photo by: XPB Images

Fernando Alonso, McLaren MP4-30
Fernando Alonso, McLaren MP4-30
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Photo by: McLaren

Eric Boullier and Fernando Alonso, McLaren MP4-30
Eric Boullier and Fernando Alonso, McLaren MP4-30
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Photo by: McLaren

Fernando Alonso, McLaren MP4-30 Honda
Fernando Alonso, McLaren MP4-30 Honda
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Photo by: Alastair Staley / Motorsport Images

Fernando Alonso, McLaren
Fernando Alonso, McLaren
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Photo by: McLaren

Fernando Alonso, McLaren
Fernando Alonso, McLaren
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Photo by: McLaren

Fernando Alonso, McLaren MP4-31
Fernando Alonso, McLaren MP4-31
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Photo by: XPB Images

Fernando Alonso, McLaren F1
Fernando Alonso, McLaren F1
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Photo by: XPB Images

Fernando Alonso, McLaren
Fernando Alonso, McLaren
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Photo by: XPB Images

Fernando Alonso, McLaren
Fernando Alonso, McLaren
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Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

Fernando Alonso, McLaren MCL32
Fernando Alonso, McLaren MCL32
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Photo by: Sutton Images

Fernando Alonso, McLaren
Fernando Alonso, McLaren
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Photo by: Andrew Hone / Motorsport Images

Fernando Alonso, McLaren MCL32
Fernando Alonso, McLaren MCL32
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Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images

Fernando Alonso, McLaren MCL32
Fernando Alonso, McLaren MCL32
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Photo by: Andrew Hone / Motorsport Images

Fernando Alonso, McLaren
Fernando Alonso, McLaren
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Photo by: Sutton Images

Fernando Alonso, McLaren MCL33
Fernando Alonso, McLaren MCL33
101/106

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

Fernando Alonso, McLaren in the press conference
Fernando Alonso, McLaren in the press conference
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Fernando Alonso, McLaren MCL33
Fernando Alonso, McLaren MCL33
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Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images

Fernando Alonso, McLaren, on the grid
Fernando Alonso, McLaren, on the grid
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Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

Fernando Alonso, McLaren MCL33, performs donuts on the grid at the end of the race
Fernando Alonso, McLaren MCL33, performs donuts on the grid at the end of the race
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Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

Fernando Alonso, McLaren says goodbye to the fans
Fernando Alonso, McLaren says goodbye to the fans
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Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images

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