Fernando Alonso on Thursday said he’d give McLaren a chance to settle their plans before making a decision about his future – but warned that he wouldn’t stick around in a losing car.
The frustrated two-time world champion has been making noises all season about quitting the British team, who are widely expected to dump their misfiring Honda engines and go with Renault instead.
Alonso’s car has failed to complete six races this season, and his best finish so far is sixth. He said he had “many options” both inside and outside of Formula One, but added that “very good news is coming”.
“Whatever I do next year is because I want to win. I will not be around in any series to be fighting for top 10 or top 15,” he told reporters ahead of the Singapore Grand Prix.
“There are many options out there that I’m looking at. Formula One is my first and only priority so I will wait to make a decision on that before making decisions on other series.
“At the same time I want to give time to my team. After the last three years, the struggles we went through together, to have time for them to make decisions, to see the future, next year’s car. And after they take decisions I will take mine.”
Alonso’s comments appear to hint that he will stay at McLaren next year if they axe Honda, which is strongly rumoured to happen before Sunday’s race.
Alonso, 36, is one of the oldest drivers on the grid, and he also hankers after becoming only the second man after Graham Hill to complete motorsport’s Triple Crown – winning the Monaco Grand Prix, Indy 500 and Le Mans.
GAME OF CHESS
Alonso last year skipped Monaco to race the Indy 500 but he seemed hopeful that he would contest the famous street grand prix next season.
“If I remain in Formula One it is because I can believe that I can win next year. So that will make the decision a lot easier because I will be in Monaco because I won’t want to lose any points,” he said.
“The priority is Formula One… and the Triple Crown is in the background. I’m waiting for my current team to make their decisions and after that, to negotiate.”
He added: “For my fans and for motorsport lovers, they will have a fantastic 2018 season. The plan is ongoing and very good news is coming.”
Alonso last month denied telling McLaren he’d quit if they don’t ditch Honda. Multiple reports say Honda will open a partnership with Toro Rosso, whose driver Carlos Sainz is tipped to join Renault as part of the deal.
Sainz said he couldn’t comment on the rumours but he added: “My ambition is to try and be a world champion one day. Whatever path there is, I will take the shortest path.”
World championship leader Lewis Hamilton, who has won two of his three drivers’ titles since leaving McLaren for Mercedes in 2013, said: “Formula One is like a game of chess.
“It’s really about picking your moves at the right time and hopefully you have enough options.”
“F1 is like a game of chess” 🤔
Care to explain, Lewis Hamilton… pic.twitter.com/Wxl4sKJVvC
— Formula 1 (@F1) September 14, 2017
Provided by AFP Sport
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Real Madrid fan and Formula One superstar Fernando Alonso has been named as an official honorary member of the Whites at a lavish ceremony held at the Santiago Bernabeu.
The boyhood Los Blancos fan, who endured a disappointing Italian Grand Prix on Sunday, is the latest inductee into Real’s member roll of honour.
“Thank you very much Mr. President, this is a tremendously special day for me, I do not miss anything that happens at this club and when people ask me why I am a supporter, I always say I don’t know why, because I was just born to be a Real Madrid supporter,” the McLaren-Honda driver, now 36, said.
The Spaniard is twice a world championship, having won back-to-back crowns in 2005 and 2006.
Alonso: “I am another member of this great club.” 👇
— Real Madrid C.F.🇬🇧 (@realmadriden) September 4, 2017
Depsite finishing sixth at the Hungarian Grand Prix, Fernando Alonso has not been able to challenge for a world title since winning the championship in 2006.
Now with his McLaren contract due to expire at the end of the year, do you think he should retire from F1?
Let us know what you think as two of our writers debate on the topic.
CHRIS BAILEY, SAYS YES
Fernando Alonso turned 36 over the weekend but it is a sign of the times that a sixth-place finish was considered a worthy birthday present for a legend of the sport.
It is the highest position the Spaniard has achieved with a moribund McLaren car aside from a handful of fifths. After three sorry years, a lesser competitor would have called it quits by now and no one would question his fight if he does just that when his contract expires this winter.
A return to the Scuderia was brutally slammed shut earlier this month by Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne. “Maybe he might have some interest for us, but not for him.” Ouch.
Valtteri Bottas only has a one-year deal at Mercedes but he has proven a perfectly capable driver and pairing Alonso with Lewis Hamilton again, though the pair have matured across a decade, would risk upsetting a very stable applecart.
Top teams could be wary just for the fact he rubbed people the wrong way after his McLaren spat with Hamilton in 2007, and in walking away from Ferrari at the end of 2014.
Mercedes chairman Niki Lauda implied he has not been impressed by some of the Spaniard’s actions, too. “I do not think Ferrari wants to have him again,” he said. “He left with a contract, which is the same as what happened with him and McLaren Mercedes.”
Therefore staying with McLaren is his only realistic choice in F1, and that would mean betting his future on a new engine making a world of difference.
As disastrous as Honda have been, that McLaren could make a quantum leap in 2018 is wishful thinking. Alonso was down 58 seconds on fifth-place Max Verstappen Sunday and he may as well have been a world away from the podium.
And of course McLaren are willing for him to participate in races like the Indy500 – they have to make a whole heap of concessions because their car is terrible.
But he should not have to keep hanging on. His best bet is to take a year out for other pursuits, and let McLaren prove themselves. If they don’t he’ll quickly find there is more to racing than F1.
MATT MAJENDIE, SAYS NO
The general consensus within the Formula One paddock is that Fernando Alonso is the most complete driver on the grid. But it is currently a talent being wasted.
He was last on an F1 podium in 2014, his last victory dates back to 2013 while you have to go back 11 years for the last time he was crowned world champion.
Conversations have swirled around about his future to the extent that this weekend in Budapest he said he was bored of talking about it, and would not declare his hand until September.
The 36-year-old has warned the call he makes will be a risk, but the biggest risk would be for him to walk away altogether. F1 needs Alonso and Alonso needs F1.
From the moment he produced a scintillating first test run for Minardi in 2001, it was clear that the sport had unearthed a gem – and is now all the richer for him.
His drive to finish in sixth place at Sunday’s Hungarian Grand Prix highlighted the point perfectly. Ok, he was more than a minute away from race leader Sebastian Vettel, but it was a reminder of what he’s capable of with a quick car at his disposal.
The Hungaroring is a circuit that does not require the same power as many on the calendar so it showed that McLaren have actually created a good, competitive car that crucially lacks a decent Honda engine.
It is perhaps telling that the team’s racing director Eric Boullier has set a September deadline for the team’s engine decision for 2018, the same deadline Alonso has put on his future.
Alonso holds enormous sway at McLaren, and the team has made it clear it will do absolutely everything in its power to keep him. And with no realistic options at other teams, McLaren is where his future lies.
They have made it clear they are happy to let their star man pursue his other desires, namely to win motorsport’s other jewels in the crown, the Indy500 and Le Mans.
He was back smiling in a deckchair after his exploits in Budapest, a nod to one of his darker days at McLaren when his car failed him in qualifying at Interlagos. He’s happy enough, and has unfinished business in F1.