London: Formula One star Fernando Alonso has announced that he will retire from the sport at the end of this season.
"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.
"There are still several Grands Prix to go this season, and I will take part in them with more commitment and passion than ever," Alonso said in a statement on the F1 website.
"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. I want to thank everyone at McLaren. My heart is with the team forever. I know they will come back stronger and better in the future and it could be the right moment for me to be back in the series; that would make me really happy.
"I made this decision some months ago and it was a firm one. Nevertheless, I would like to sincerely thank Chase Carey and Liberty Media for the efforts made to change my mind and everyone who has contacted me during this time," he added.
"Finally, I would also like to thank my former teams, team-mates, competitors, colleagues, partners, journalists and everyone I have worked with in my F1 career. And, especially, my fans all over the world. I am quite sure our paths will cross again in the future."
The 37-year-old made his debut in 2001 and has been on the grid every year since 2003. He has 32 wins, 22 pole positions and 97 podium positions to his credit. He has amassed a total of 302 Grand Prix starts making him fourth on the all-time list.
He won the F1 title in 2005 and 2006 and finished runner-up three times. But the Spaniard has not enjoyed too much success over the last few years. He has not won an F1 race in five years and the Drivers' World Championship for more than 10 years.
"Fernando is not only an outstanding ambassador for McLaren but also for Formula 1. His 17 years in the sport, as arguably the pre-eminent driver of his generation and undoubtedly an F1 great, have added another layer to Formula 1's rich history.
"There is a time for everyone to make a change and Fernando has decided the end of this season to be his. We respect his decision, even if we believe he is in the finest form of his career. Our open dialogue with Fernando has meant we could plan for this eventuality," McLaren Racing's Chief Executive Officer Zak Brown said.
"While evaluating his future during the past months, Fernando's competitiveness has been undimmed. He has continued to perform at the highest level throughout, as we know he will do in the remaining nine races of this year's championship," he added.
"I know that the entire team joins me in paying tribute to Fernando's enormous contribution to McLaren; he is a legend both for the championship and for the team. Fernando is an important part of our story and will join an illustrious line of McLaren drivers. On behalf of Shaikh Mohammed, Mansour and our entire board, we wish Fernando every success in the future."