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.

X44 Racing win 2022 Extreme E championship as Abt Cupra score first race victory

2022 Extreme E Uruguay
Extreme E
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Abt Cupra Racing’s Nasser Al-Attiyah and Klara Andersson scored their first win in the Extreme E Energy X Prix in the 2022 finale in Uruguay as Lewis Hamilton’s X44 Vida Carbon Racing drivers Sebastien Loeb and Cristina Gutierrez survived a chaotic finale to edge the 2021 champion Rosberg X Prix team of Johan Kristoffersson and Mikhaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky, by two points.

“There are so many emotions,” Andersson said in Extreme E’s coverage. “I’ve been waiting for this for so long. In my second race, first full weekend to be at the top of the podium: it’s big.”

Andersson was behind the wheel at the finish.

Rosberg Racing entered the event with a 17-point advantage over X44, but the standings were close enough that four teams remained in contention in Round 5.

“It’s a crucial weekend for us,” Loeb said in Extreme E’s coverage prior to the race. “We are not in the best position to win the championship, but the only thing we can do is try to win the race and score as many points as possible.”

The top two title contenders each crashed in qualification and were relegated to the Crazy Race, Extreme E’s version of the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ). For the moment, they had the steepest hill to climb, but then the other two championship contending teams, Chip Ganassi Racing and Acciona Sainz Racing failed to advance from their heats.

Only one team advances from the Crazy Race, so the X44 drivers were in a must-win situation to simply keep hope alive.

More: Extreme E 2023 schedule

Ahlin-Kottulinsky and Gutierrez ran wheel to wheel into the first turn at the start of the LCQ.

The Rosberg racer experienced crash damage in that turn that damaged her front steering, but managed to limp back to the pits at the end of her two-lap stint. The team attempted to fix the steering, but incurred a penalty for having too many mechanics in the pit area.

Meanwhile, Gutierrez took the early lead, but knew she would need to sit through a five-second penalty for an incident earlier in the weekend. The female half of the gender equal pair erased the penalty by entering the Switch Zone with a five-second lead before turning the car over to Loeb.

That was all the nine-time World Rally Championship titlist needed to give him the advantage needed to win the Crazy Race.

But the championship was not over yet. X44 Racing needed to finish third or better in the five-car finale to earn enough points for the title and after advancing from the LCQ, they were forced to take the worst grid position.

A chaotic start to the Finale saw Loeb run as high the lead and low as fourth after getting pushed off course during his first lap. And that is how he entered to Switch Zone.

On her first lap, Gutierrez slammed into Molly Taylor. With one lap remaining, X44 and Gutierrez were still in fourth and the title hope was quickly evaporating, but it was announced halfway through the lap that the third-running Andretti United team would suffer a penalty for a Switch Zone infraction. The seven-second deduction for Timmy Hansen braking too late in the zone made the difference in the title.

Coming off a disappointing Copper X Prix when Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour crossed under the checkers first, but were relegated to fifth by penalty, the McLaren pair scored their first podium of the season in second.