Fernando was touched; no doubt about that. “When I see the pictures,” he said quietly, “and I see the videos of all those years it is as if it is not myself. It is someone in helmet and overalls, racing for so many years with friends and team-mates. And so I want to say thanks for the time I have had in this first 250. There will not be another 250, I can tell you, but it has been special. Sometimes we are up and down in the sport. Not always can we be in control but even in the difficult times I am still enjoying what I do because I share my life with you. We spend some weeks with family at home and some days with friends we meet after a long time but our normal life is here. It is between us and it is this normal life that we share. This is what makes it possible to do 250 races. You enjoy the environment and you enjoy the people you are working with. The best technical people in the world. The best engineers. The best cars – truly great people. That is the most important thing from this 250.
“So thanks everyone for coming here. I am happy that we share this moment together and for the young people that are here I wish that you enjoy your 250 races because I reached this number with good success and in sport if you don’t win it’s not the same thing. In my case I try to enjoy this time with McLaren-Honda and I am sure we will enjoy it more in the future. Lots of thanks too to Ron Dennis, who is not here. Perhaps this allows us to relax a little more but we need him more than ever to take us through this situation quickly. Thank you.”
And when we – Darren Heath, Steven Tee and I – asked Fernando afterwards what celebration/moves he had in mind for when he does again win a race he replied, “I don’t know yet. I know what I’m going to do when I retire, though – after my last race: I’m going to strip down the overalls, sit on the car like in the old days and light up a cigarette!”
Thanks, Fernando. You’ve ignited our sport for a decent time now. Here’s to many races more.