Alonso: My next move won’t be a surprise for anybody

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ABU DHABI – Fernando Alonso has dropped the biggest hint yet that he is set to join McLaren for the 2015 Formula 1 season, telling NBCSN that “it will not be a surprise for anybody where I will go.”

After five years with Ferrari, it was announced today that Alonso would be leaving Maranello to make way for Sebastian Vettel in 2015, ending his contract with the team two years early.

For over a year, Alonso has been rumored to be angling for a move back to McLaren, and he confirmed today that he considered quitting Ferrari in 2013 after a difficult campaign.

“It has not been an easy decision to make,” Alonso explained. “Ferrari is the most important team in motorsport. It’s difficult to say bye-bye but I made that decision because I feel that is the best for my future and probably the best for Ferrari as well.

“It was tough, last year we had some conversations already. This year, after summer, I went to President Montezemolo and said: ‘President, I need to go. I feel that I need to go.’

“They were very understanding with the situation and with my wish. I need to say publicly again thanks to Montezemolo and to Ferrari because I had two more years on my contract and they could say no, but they showed a lot of respect on my side to understand.

“Now it’s time to move on. You can be third, fourth, and still believe that you are a Ferrari driver and feel proud, but maybe I’m strange – I want to win.”

Alonso refused to confirm what his next move would be, but told NBCSN’s Will Buxton that it will not come as a surprise to anybody, suggesting that he is indeed bound for McLaren as the entire paddock and F1 community assumes.

“I think today, it was not a surprise for anybody what we announced, and I think soon it will not be a surprise for anybody where I will go,” he said.

Following Vettel’s confirmation at Ferrari today, the driver market puzzle has taken another step towards being completed. Only four seats remain unconfirmed ahead of the final race of the year in Abu Dhabi this weekend: two at McLaren, one at Force India and one at Toro Rosso.

For Alonso though, the future appears to be clearer than ever. A return to McLaren may have been unthinkable in the past following their fall-out in 2007, but after an unfulfilling five-year spell with Ferrari, it seems to be his best remaining option for 2015.

Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images
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Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry. Time just published a brief piece by Wallace saluting Hamilton as a trailblazer.

The idea of Hamilton attending the NASCAR season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it would seem right for Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — to spend some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).