SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Two times world champion Fernando Alonso suspects Sunday’s Brazilian Grand Prix may be his last real chance of adding to his career points tally before he leaves Formula One at the end of the month.
“I think it’s going to be OK. The circuit is definitely better than Abu Dhabi, the next one, so if we want to score points I think this is the chance for us,” the McLaren driver told reporters on Thursday.
“We have some unsettled weather for Saturday and Sunday so maybe that also gives us other possibilities. I am quite optimistic.”
The Spaniard, now 37, won both of his 2005 and 2006 titles with Renault at Interlagos and the ramshackle but atmospheric Sao Paulo circuit has given him plenty of memories over the years, if no race wins.
They include ‘sunbathing’ trackside on a marshal’s chair — triggering the social media hashtag #PlacesAlonsoWouldRatherBe — after retiring his McLaren from the 2015 race with yet another Honda engine failure.
There was also the prank trip he made to the podium that same year with then-team mate Jenson Button just to remind themselves what it felt like after a nightmare season among the also-rans.
Alonso has not been on the podium since he was at Ferrari in 2014 and points have been hard to come by since he joined McLaren in 2015 at the beginning of a failed partnership with Honda.
This year, with Renault engines, has been better and Alonso is 10th in the championship having scored 50 of McLaren’s 62 points.
The double Monaco Grand Prix winner and Le Mans 24 Hours champion announced in August that he would be leaving Formula One, without completely closing the door to an eventual comeback.
He said then that he would take part in the remaining races with more commitment and passion than ever and has been savouring them all.
“Counting every minute, trying to enjoy every second,” the winner of 32 grands prix and scorer of 1,899 points over 17 seasons said on Thursday when asked how he was approaching the final stretch.
“It’s the last two grands prix. Obviously you want to do a good job on Sunday, which is the main reason why you’re here, but the rest of the weekend you try to enjoy as well.”
Alonso, who is also competing with Toyota in the World Endurance Championship that ends at Le Mans next June, is expected to switch his focus post-F1 to the Indianapolis 500 and completing the so-called ‘Triple Crown of Motorsport’.
Writing by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Ken Ferris