By Alan Baldwin
LONDON (Reuters) – Fernando Alonso can be an ambassador for Formula One after the double world champion bows out at the end of the season, the sport’s managing director Sean Bratches said on Tuesday.
Speaking at a Black Book Motorsport Forum, the American said he was disappointed “from a business standpoint” that the 37-year-old Spaniard had decided to call it a day but respected the decision.
He also agreed with the McLaren driver’s view that Formula One had become too predictable.
“I hope we can engage him to be an ambassador for this great sport of ours going forward,” said Bratches.
Alonso, a double Monaco Grand Prix winner who won the Le Mans 24 Hours on his debut last June, will continue in the World Endurance Championship (WEC) with Toyota next year and is expected to return to Indianapolis.
A victory in the Indy 500 is all that stands between him and the “Triple Crown of Motorsport”, a feat so far achieved only by the late Briton Graham Hill.
Alonso won his world titles with Renault in 2005 and 2006 but last won a race with Ferrari in 2013.
He joined former champions McLaren in 2015 and will bow out after 17 seasons in the sport, and 32 wins.
He said at last week’s Silverstone Six Hours WEC race that Formula One lacked excitement in its current form and had become too predictable.
“I stopped because the action on-track in my opinion I feel is very poor. In fact, what we talk about more in Formula One is off-track. We talk about polemics, we talk about radio messages, we talk about all these things,” he told reporters.
“I think there are other series that maybe offer better action, more joy, and I think more happiness.”
Bratches said he would have advised the Spaniard to use different words but could not argue with the substance.
“There is an opportunity for Formula One to be less predictable and I think its important that we get there,” he said.
“Since 2015, only three teams have won a grand prix. So it is pretty predictable.
“So I think he’s right and we have a plan too fix it. I wish he was around for another 10 years to be part of that. He’s been such a phenomenal ambassador for the sport, such a hero and a legend.”
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ed Osmond)