Fernando Alonso's departure from Formula 1 could have the same impact as "Real Madrid with Ronaldo", long-time associate Flavio Briatore claims.
The Spaniard called time on his F1 career after 17 years back in August and received a fond farewell in Abu Dhabi highlighting how big of a personality the double world champion has become.
And Briatore, who gave Alonso his back chance with Renault after debuting with Minardi in 2001, believes the sport will need time to find someone to fill his large shoes.
"F1 without Alonso is like Real Madrid without Cristiano Ronaldo," he was quoted by GPFans.com.
"He is one of the few recognisable stars. If you see these guys from here and take off their overalls, I only recognize Lewis [Hamilton], [Sebastian] Vettel and [Kimi] Raikkonen and that's it."
Fernando is moving to new challenges with a return to the Daytona 24 Hours, the Indianapolis 500 and WEC his current schedule and the flamboyant Italian does think the 37-year-old is right to move on from F1.
"Alonso needs a period of relaxation. He had three very frustrating years in which he behaved impeccably, the performance of the McLaren was ridiculous and he still fought for positions that did not correspond," he said.
The big question, however, is whether Alonso will be back in F1 in 2020 but the former team boss believes it will only happen on one condition.
"There are only two teams: Mercedes or Ferrari, there are no other choices. The other choice is to finish fourth, fifth or sixth," he said.
"I think with the talent he has, you put him in the right car and he could still be the strongest driver along with Hamilton.
"Someday the teams will realise that to win the Constructors' Championship you need two strong drivers in the team. We will see what happens in a few months or a year."
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