Two-time champion Fernando Alonso said he will be open to offers from rival teams if McLaren continue to struggle next season.
The Spaniard told a news conference ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix that he was happy with the team, but that his aim was to try and win a third drivers’ world title.
“My intention, and my first priority, is to race here (F1) next year, but not just to race… Also to win. I’m happy with the team, but we are not winning.
“If from here to September, or October, I see an opportunity to win in 2018, I’ll be more than happy to stay.
“If it’s not the case, I will be more than happy to talk to anyone…”
On a wet day in Barcelona Alonso was in a genial and mischievous mood and said he was looking forward to flying to the United States next week to prepare for the Indianapolis 500.
He revealed that he has already had it written into his contract that he will keep his race car, as used in America on May 28, and put it on display in his personal car museum in Spain.
“Yes, that is what is going to happen,” said Alonso. “I have had it written in all my contracts like that since 2004.”
Alonso is in the final season of a three-year contract with McLaren-Honda and smiled broadly at suggestions that he could leave to join Mercedes or Ferrari or Red Bull.
“Now is not the time for me to think of this,” he said. “It’s a busy period with Indycar… So I don’t know.
“If it’s time to find other challenges outside Formula One, or if F1 will be an opportunity to win the championship, which is my main goal – I’m very open to anything.”
He said he was enjoying this year’s racing in the new “fatter and faster” cars.
“This year the cars are good to drive,” he said. “Formula One is back in a way. I like this Formula One. The cars look good again.”
Sebastian Vettel says that his Ferrari team mate Kimi Raikkonen deserved to get better results in the first four races of 2017.
Vettel has won two races so far this season, but Raikkonen has finished on the podium just once. His third place in Sochi means the Finn is now 27 points in arrears to Vettel in the drivers championship.
“He probably didn’t have the races he deserved,” Vettel said this week.
“Things didn’t go 100 per cent in his direction so far,” the four-time world champion continued. “But I don’t think there’s any doubt inside the paddock that he’s one of the most talented drivers we have.
“I don’t think there’s anyone who doubts his skills or his talent,” he added. “I don’t think anybody else could go to WRC and perform at the level he did, just come back and be right up to the pace again.
“You need to have a lot of things coming your way,” he pointed out.
“If you look back last year, I had some races where things didn’t come way. It’s up and down. But usually throughout the season it sort of equals out.”
Raikkonen has been fending off speculation that he’s out of favour with Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne. Getting into the top three in the Russian Grand Prix certainly came at the right time for him,
It was “a more positive weekend compared to the first three races,” Raikkonen said after the race.
“Obviously I’m happy for the podium. But I’m disappointed to lose a place at the start instead of gaining one,” he added. “Now we need to keep working; small details can make a big difference in the end.”
Bernie Ecclestone has hit back at F1 CEO Chase Carey’s comments about the former supremo’s management of Formula 1 in the recent years and his lack of vision.
Carey, who praised Ecclestone for growing the sport to its blockbuster status, said that the 86-year-old had managed F1 for the short term benefit of its shareholders and had failed to bring Grand Prix racing into the digital age.
While Mr. E is not entirely disputing Chase Carey’s claims, he denies his guidance was ill-fated or inefficceint.
“He’s probably dead right,” he told the Mail.
“If an idea was not going to make money or waste everyone’s time I did say ‘No’.
“He’s not very specific, is he?” he continued.
“I’d like him to say, ‘Bernie did this or that and it was stupid’.
“I ran a company as chief executive that had to show a profit. If I ran it inefficiently Liberty probably wouldn’t have bought the shares.
“I had to make sure we could get the maximum financially we could for the company to make it interesting for somebody to buy, which is obviously what happened.
“It appears he doesn’t need to make money any more. But it’s good he has an opinion.
“Maybe there are things I missed and maybe they will come up with things and hopefully it moves forward,” he added.
As Liberty Media reaches its 100 days at the helm of Formula 1, and while it’s still early days, Ecclestone also questions the company’s accomplishments to date.
“What has he done up to now?” asked Ecclestone.
“He said he was going to open up the paddock, get more people in. And what he did was withdraw paddock passes from senior Russians in Sochi, apparently including President Putin.
“He talks about the social media side, but I haven’t seen anything he’s done that has been beneficial to Formula One,” he added.