After a tough year with McLaren-Honda, Fernando Alonso has revealed that his Formula One days are numbered and that he expects to exit the sport sooner rather than later.
The 34-year-old made it clear that he will not carry on racing simply for the sake of it and that he is prepared to walk away from the sport as soon as he no longer enjoys racing.
“When the time comes, I will leave Formula One,” he said in an interview with French newspaper L’Equipe.
“When you’re not fast enough, when you no longer enjoy it and when you cannot meet the demands, you know that it is time to leave.
“I feel right now as if I’m approaching the end of my dream.”
The Spaniard explained that it would be a fitting ending if he could retire with his current team.
“When I was a little boy, my father built me a kart with a design inspired by McLaren-Honda and now I am a driver for McLaren-Honda,” he said. “I feel like I can come full circle in a romantic way.”
The two-time world champion acknowledged that other older drivers have continued late into their 30s, but he believes he is different.
“You look at drivers like [Kimi] Raikkonen, [Jenson] Button or [Felipe] Massa and it seems like they could carry on forever, but I probably won’t be like them,” he admitted.
Asked about his post-Formula One plans, Alonso was not yet sure.
“It’s still too early to discuss what I’ll do after Formula One,” he said. “The life of a Grand Prix driver is very demanding.
“When I retire from the sport I think I’ll start by enjoying the return to a more normal life.”
However, the Asturian did not completely close the door on a return to competitive racing.
“I’m sure I’ll miss competing and the adrenaline rush,” he said. “It’s likely I’ll keep racing in other categories, but one which takes up less time.
“Le Mans would be perfect, as you don’t have to be away for the full year.”
13 races remain for Alonso in this 2016 season, with the Austrian Grand Prix on July 3 the next one on the calendar.