Fernando Alonso 'thankful' to Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel for 'improvised' send-off

Fernando Alonso was paid a wonderful tribute by Lewis Hamilton Sebastian Vettel

Fernando Alonso was paid a wonderful tribute by Lewis Hamilton Sebastian Vettel

"They are both great champions", he added, "and I feel very privileged to race with them and it was a great race to be fighting with the Haas drivers [for tenth place] to the very end".

"It's been a real honour and a privilege to race in the same era as him", the Brit continued.

Fernando Alonso was "very impressed" with NASCAR legend Jimmie Johnson's performance in a Formula 1 vehicle in their drive swap test in Bahrain.

"Without a doubt", Johnson, the seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion, said, according to Motorsport.

"And, two or three years ago, in the same place, it was his last race and no-one had all the things that I have received this weekend".

For Alonso's 312th and final race in Formula One, his team have spared no expense, emblazoning their cars with red and blue, the colours of his native region of Asturias, and even arranging for a giant-screen presentation of today's grand prix in his hometown of Oviedo.

"But in 2020 I'm open for different things".

"I've done sports vehicle races in the past, I've finished second in the Rolex 24 a couple of times in the prototype division, I'd love to get back to doing that". I'm shier than people think and I want it go by quickly.

Alonso, who has now retired from the sport - although has hinted it could be a temporary one - was flanked by race victor Hamilton and runner-up Vettel on the cool-down lap for what he revealed was an improvised celebration.

"Fernando is a true legend".

As for whether F1 will see Vandoorne again, the 26-year-old is set to work in Mercedes' simulator next year and he said: "I don't know".

"So I have had no time yesterday evening and this morning, and I need a bit of time to myself and realise the magic weekend that I had". "I sit down in the chair and somebody knocks on the door to tell me to go out and see a new person".

Alonso, meanwhile, will get another taste of American racing machinery in 2019 when he heads Stateside for his second attempt at winning the Indianapolis 500 with McLaren, having first tried in 2017, a move which necessitated skipping that year's Monaco Grand Prix.

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