Fernando Alonso, McLaren, Yas Marina, 2016

Alonso won’t join Mercedes in 2017 – Briatore

2017 F1 season

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Fernando Alonso will not cut short his McLaren contract to fill Nico Rosberg’s vacant seat at Mercedes, his manager has confirmed.

Flavio Briatore told La Gazzetta dello Sport his driver “will not be in a Mercedes in 2017”.

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Yas Marina, 2016
Poll: Who should fill Rosberg’s empty seat?
“People always think of Fernando when a top car is free,” said Briatore. “But we have a contract and we will respect that.”

Mercedes executive director Toto Wolff had said the two-times world champion was being considered for the drive. Alonso has gone three years without a victory at Ferrari (2014) and McLaren (since 2015) and last won the world title in 2006.

Alonso will be in the final year of his three-season McLaren contract in 2017. The team has promoted rookie Stoffel Vandoorne to be his team mate. Jenson Button will remain under contract at the team but will not drive for them in F1.

Alonso previously drove for McLaren in 2007 but cut his contract short after a falling-out between him and senior management over the Spygate affair and the handling of his team mate Lewis Hamilton.

Rosberg’s shock departure from F1 one week ago has left world champions Mercedes scrambling to fill the coveted vacancy alongside Hamilton. Their options include taking a driver with little F1 experience, hiring a driver from a rival team, or looking outside Formula One.

Among the as-yet unsigned drivers who participated in this year’s championship are Pascal Wehrlein, Esteban Gutierez and Felipe Nasr.

See the list of 2017 F1 drivers and teams

2017 F1 season

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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98 comments on “Alonso won’t join Mercedes in 2017 – Briatore”

  1. Breaking: Nelson Piquet Jr. to join Mercedes says Briatore

    1. IMO RIC is the perfect fit for Merc out of the current field..contracts are only as good as the money paid to buy them out…there is no doubt he can match it with Ves and beat him, as long as RB dont start Webberising him…l beleive Ric he can out shine lu lu in the same car, and anyone who thinks Merc are going to struggle under the new regs are dreaming..

      1. I don’t know if i’d jump ship from RB with a new set of rules coming. There’s no telling what the order will be next year. I’m sure Mercedes will be strong, but RB, Ferrari, and even McLaren could be in the running too.

  2. Damn. So we depend on Renault’s new engine, basically, barring a miracle at Ferrari.

    1. What do you mean by “we depend”?

      1. @lockup Mercedes Benz I assume, talking about the threat of Red Bull.

        1. @mashiat @estesark Yes sorry that was obscure, as @saints says I mean we depend on the new Renault engine to give Ricci and Max a crack at Lewis, now he won’t be challenged from within.

          1. Okay, fair enough. Thanks for the explanation. :) Though I’m sure a lot of people here would be happy enough with a Hamilton walkover. (I don’t count myself among them.)

      2. For an exciting 2017 season, we depend on Renault to deliver a great engine. I’m guessing he wants the Red Bull drivers to be able to challenge Hamilton, since Hamilton probably won’t have a team mate who can match him now that Alonso won’t go to Mercedes.

        1. @saints Alonso wouldn’t match Hamilton either.

          1. You’re right. He would probably beat him

          2. True regarding the Alonso wont match Hamilton

          3. @patienceandtime Why not, smart guy? So Alonso is not as good as Rosberg according to you?

          4. Alonso could still do what he did in the last races of 2008, out-score Lewis in a 3rd 4th rate car.

            Before anyone mentions Singapore, there was a second safety car that gave Lewis a second chance, Alonso left him for dust.

          5. No, he would beat him. Nico is no match for Alonso and he beat Hamilton. Yes…I am aware of Hamilton’s reliability problems but…

          6. but… you want to pretend 5 points is more than 40 @wesley.

          7. @patienceandtime, for all the brashness of the fans on the various sides of the argument, I’d say that frankly none of us really have any idea about how they’d match up right now – particularly since we’ve yet to see how they’ll adapt to the upcoming major rule change in 2017.

            Steve77, the thing is, whilst fans might highlight moments like that, we have to bear in mind that the 2008 Singapore GP was over eight years ago now and the sport has changed considerably since then – it’s worth noting that only four drivers – Alonso, Hamilton, Raikkonen and Vettel – from that grid in 2008 will still be active in 2017.

          8. Alonso couldn’t beat Lewis when Lewis was a rookie….he has little shot at Lewis now.

    2. We need Red Bull to do a solid job on the car, Renault to improve the engine, but we also need Ferrari to sort themselves out and make a good car. And we need Honda to make the step up and McLaren to stop dreaming of “the second best chassis on the grid” and built one. And we need Mercedes to get it a bit less right than the last time.

      1. Completely agree with anon here … Alonso is a great driver but then so is Hamilton and lets remember that both drivers have matured since 2008.

  3. But seriously, Briatore Is actually still alonso’s Manager? And there are people who try to argue alonso didn’t do nuffin and is just an awfully good sport? Wow.

    1. That is exactly what I was thinking. Crashgate meant nothing to these two. Just another day at the office.

    2. That’s the thing – all the best F1 drivers over the past few decades have had moments where their desire to win pushed them beyond the rules of the sport. It’s that competitive edge that makes them fast but also makes them rubbish teammates!

      1. Not all. Hakinnen was always fair. So is Raikonnen. Button also.

        1. …and all 3 have 1 championship. Better people probably, but compare 1 championship to 2 for Alonso, 3 for Hamilton, 4 for Vettel, 7 for Schumacher. Even Senna and Prost were willing to crash each other to win championships.

          1. Hakkinen has 2 though…

          2. @lancer033
            Come again? Who was champ in ’98 and ’99?
            Before making such a purely opinion-based comment, at least make sure you got your only stated fact right. Now your whole argument goes down the drain.

          3. Kimi would have had 1-2 WDCs more on his belt, if it hadn’t been for that hyper fragile Newey-designed rocket he drove!

    3. He’s just his manager, he doesn’t tell him what to do in the car, not since he left Renault… What has Alonso done that goes against being a good sport? Thought so…

  4. Yeah sure Flavio..

    Hi Fernando, it’s Toto… I’ve got you a championship winning car here for you. Would you like it?

    No thanks Toto, I’ve got a contract and I’m loyal as glue.

    Cmon.. there’s only 1 thing on Alonso’s “letter to Santa”.

      1. Of course….things could get very unpleasant in this debate
        if someone wrote something like……’well, the current McLaren
        No.1 Driver simply daren’t cross his long-term manager
        because that very ‘interesting’ gentleman knows where all the
        skeletons are buried and worse, he knows exactly who helped to
        bury them…..’

        But, none of us would ever begin to speculate about that sort of
        thing, now would we ?

        1. Judging by some of the nutty comments above such as Steve77, I think there is going to hundreds of posters thinking exactly that.

          Along with hundreds of others telling us the fragrant Alonso is Snow White in disguise and that whatever it was, whenever it was, it must have been Hamilton’s fault.

          Even those reliability issues of 06! 😴 After all he was doing all that work in GP2 on Bridgestones and must have had huge advantages (even though he had to follow it up with ‘thousands of miles’ of testing in just two months of the winter on Michelins!) over poor double WC Alonso, oh and he had a working magic death ray killing Alonsos in 2006 F1 races just to get one over! :)

          Did you not know?

          Just take a look at some of the rate a race polls and stuff posted by Keith on the Autosport archive forums those years.

          Warms the cockles frankly.

          And

          1. You should talk to Button and tell him he has got it wrong because he recently said Alonso is a better all around driver than “your guy”. But what does he know. He’s only raced with them for 15 years as well as being their teammate.

            And please talk to his peers and former race drivers who claim he is not only the best on the current grid but one of the all time greats.

            It’s one thing not to like someone, and it’s easy with Alonso’s past, but belittling the achievement of beating Schumacher twice is BS.

          2. Reply to Mick.
            When did he beat Schumacher excatly? In 2005 when Ferrari was 4th fastest team and Michael still managed 3rd? The only reason why Alonso won that year was the fact McLaren let Kimi down. In 2006 Renault was better than Ferrari and he still only managed to win WDC in the last race.

          3. to mick
            Alonso couldn’t beat Hamilton when Hamilton was just learning the category as a rookie. That is all the evidence any sane mind needs. What does it matter what Button says? Button may like Alonso’s demeanor more, and be biased for that reason alone. But Hamilton’s rookie season doesn’t lie…he was better than Alonso in the same car when Lewis was just starting out.

  5. Well at least I can quit refreshing f1f every hour now…. :(

  6. Gordon Hetherington
    9th December 2016, 12:30

    Fernando was schooled by a rookie Lewis Hamilton in 2007, he doesn’t want to face the fully formed Lewis in 2017.

    1. yeah, Fernando a ripe old 24 at the time!!!!

      1. Two time world champion.

    2. I think Alonso should to stay put as the experienced driver at McLaren and hope both McLaren and Honda can sort their deficiencies. If he goes to Mercedes and chances are they will build a race winning car again, it would be tense with Hamilton in top form. From a team perspective, driver management would once again be a focus area and unlike Rosberg, Alonso may not be willing to be a team player if he has a shot at the top spot. On the flipside, if Mercedes wants a team player they would have to settle with a less experienced driver who may be prone to errors thus costing valuable championship points. It a tough decision for the team either way.

    3. God, even Lewis said he learned a lot about pure driving from Alonso in 2007, but nothing from Button in the next years at McLaren. Fans in this page knows more than Jean Todt, Briatore, Hamilton, Ecclestone, Button and basically everyone in the F1 business about who’s a great driver.

  7. If we are used to one thing from Briatore, it is honesty…

    1. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
      9th December 2016, 13:21

      If Briatore says that they will honour their contract with Mclaren it means he is literally on the phone to Toto right now!

      1. Mark in Florida
        9th December 2016, 22:44

        Ha, ha ,ha, I was thinking about the same thing! It seems as if they are denying it that means that it’s true. Alonso to Mercedes in 2017.

  8. Lol, contract must be airtight if Briatore cannot get him out ..

    Also Alonso is worth 25M€ per year… Would he be worth that after loosing 1 year to Ham?

    1. Imagine what he would be worth if 2007 had not happened :)

  9. Yeah, it was too good to be true. On another side if Mercedes decides to promote Wehrlein he could make some errors which could benefit to the likes of Red Bull.
    I’m left with the hope that the McLaren will be a good car next year (which I doubt). I’d be very happy if they manage a podium.

  10. Too many seem to think that Alonso at Mercedes would result in a repeat of 2007, and that would be enough justification for the move. But isn’t that basically what we have got anyway with him and Vandoorne at McLaren?

    1. But that isn’t two WDCs in what might be the best cars again. We weren’t looking for a WDC and a rookie ala 07, this time in what might be mid-field cars or perhaps a little better, but probably not top 3. We need LH challenged, especially if Merc dominates still. Without that it’s going to be a lesser season other than for LH fans who will enjoy seeing him perform a cakewalk. Hopefully though it is as many speculate and that RBR will at least be a match for Merc next year. Hopefully the top 3 or 4 teams are going to be able to race each other closely.

  11. Personally, when it comes to F1, I have stopped believing any of these speculators, pundits, or media sensationalists (just like I have stopped believing the pollsters when it comes to presidential elections).

    In due season we shall know who gets the seat.

    1. In this particular case Briatore isn’t a “speculator, pundit, or media sensationalist”, he is Alonso’s manager. If anyone knows what is going on behind the scene, it’s him.

      Which doesn’t mean that you should trust what he has to say on the subject, by the way. We’re still talking about the man who, after Alonso announced at the end of 2005 that he would be leaving Renault for McLaren in 2007, said that he didn’t know until Alonso made the announcement publicly – despite being both Alonso’s manager and Renault’s team principal.

    2. Too true. Andrew Benson of the BBC claimed Alonso’s relationship was untenable with McLaren after his testing crash 2 seasons ago.

  12. Britatore also confirmed that Ferrari offered Alonso a contract until 2019, which should put to bed the theories that Ferrari never wanted him for 2015.

    1. I understand it was Honda who approached Alonso about the McLaren drive ( not McLaren).
      About Alonso leaving Ferrari, it was not that Ferrari did not want him, he had lost hope of getting a competitive car.
      In fact Ex Ferrari technical boss James Allinson said, when he joined Ferrari, he has several discussions with Alonso trying to persuade him to stay!

      1. No it was Martin Whitmarsh who started the ball rolling to bring Alonso back. There’s an interview on Skysports, where he says ‘we are looking at him’ ‘he’s the best’

  13. Silly suggestion maybe but why is Mercedes not talking to Button for 2017 (after he really retires) by then Alonso is free for 2018 and maybe 2019 (Alonso retires) and 2019/2020 welcome Max.

    1. @jelle-van-der-meer Because Button isn’t good enough.

      1. Give Button a good car and he will match Hamilton – he did before.

        1. That’s the problem. Merc can’t guarantee they’ll have the best car. They potentially need a relentless trooper who could fight Verstappen and Ricciardo in a better Red Bull. The only drive that fills those requirements is Alonso. (As we saw at Renault in 2008 and Ferrari later)

        2. Mr. J.Peaty
          Button only “matched” Hamilton because of colossal car troubles, which was the exact impetus for Hamilton leaving. Much like Rosberg only “matched” Lewis this year due to car troubles….without those troubles, it really would not have been close. Stop trying to re-write history. If Lewis had a reliable car when at McLaren, he may very well still be there, and he certainly would have won more championships with that team than the one he did. Martin Whitmarsh paid the price for that team’s failures, and years later Ron Dennis is out the door as well. No coincidence.

    2. How do you know they’re not talking to JB?

      1. Valid point – maybe rephrase ?- why is the press not listing/naming Button as a perfect candidate for the seat. He is a world champion, loads of experience with different teams, partnered well with Hamilton in the past, is available (doubt there will be contract issues) and is likely cheaper than Alonso.

        1. @jelle-van-der-meer, at the moment, everything that Button had said and done would seem to suggest that he is satiated with F1 and isn’t actively looking for a race seat, even if there is now an opportunity at Mercedes.

          In an interview with Eddie Jordan just before the Abu Dhabi GP, he has said that “the reason I wanted to retire in the first place is that I didn’t want to race next year”, before then going on to say that he was looking for opportunities to take up rallycross (indicating that he wants to follow in his father’s footsteps and to make a mark in that series). He seems to be content with his decision to leave the sport, which seems to explain why few think that he would be in talks with Mercedes now.

          Furthermore, technically he is still under contract with McLaren as a reserve driver, which does add other complications.

    3. @jelle-van-der-meer A BUT-HAM matchup in a competitive car would be great to watch again.

      1. Indeed – they did well as teammates – seemed to be little rivalry. If you ask me Button is the far better option than Wehrlein, Ocon etc.

        Doubt Mclaren will really block that as Button helped Mclaren resolve the Vandoorne seat problem and in terms compared to getting Alonso the far cheaper option.

        1. and if Red Bull have a better car it will be a case of ‘you get what you pay for’. Providing Merc have the same 1 sec advantage, they could have Palmer in there.

  14. ColdFly F1 (@)
    9th December 2016, 13:17

    Besides the airtight contract there’s also the uncertainty of 2017 and beyond (regulations impact).
    Its not too far fetched to think that 2017 will be a RBR year, with McLaren’-Honda making another step forward. On that trajectory McLaren will be a better home than Mercedes for a 2018+ title.
    Thus playing a wait and see game (allow Bottas/Wehrlein to fill the Merc seat for 1 year) and decide in 2017 whom to sign with for 2018 is not too stupid. We’ll know early in 2017 if McLaren has made the next step, and if Mercedes is still in title contention territory.

  15. Took his time to pledge loyalty to Mclaren. Flav only made this announcement after Mclaren told Fernando he wasn’t going anywhere.

  16. This sort of thing is usually code for ‘we’re in negotiations but we’re putting on some pressure for a better deal’.

  17. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
    9th December 2016, 13:43

    “We will honour the contract”

    i.e. we will wait until the first test for Alonso to activate his “doesn’t like the 2017 cars” clause

  18. Wow everyone seems to think this is just lip service, which would be great, but it sounds pretty definite to me. Anyway, if true it’s ‘go Max go’ for me, as I don’t think anyone but FA (or SV but it seems there’s nothing to hope for there) will be making any kind of notable rivalry at Mercedes.

    1. Redbull won’t be allowing Verstappen to go anywhere. The likely outcome of this is Mercedes finally bringing in one of their junior’s to give their junior program some credibility.

      Everyone wants to see Alonso in a good car again but its less important to mercedes to have him than it is to have one of their own in the seat.

      Some things to consider when selected a new driver

      1) prior investment in the resource
      2) marketability (getting the mercedes and other sponsors brand recognised in new and important markets ie; not another german)
      3) ability to contribute points to the WCC
      4) personality – not crash both cars out of every race in an effort to win

      1. Yeah I wasn’t suggesting I think Merc should go after Max, nor that RBR would let him go, nor that Max would even be interested, as much of the talk seems to be that RBR will be good next year. I was just saying that I don’t think there will be anything of note to watch at Mercedes by them taking a lesser driver, so my attention will be on Max at RBR.

      2. 1) Button drove their Mercedes engines at Mclaren
        2) Button is World Champion
        3) Button is World Champion and has been close to Hamilton and sometimes better during their 3 years at Mclaren
        4) Do not recall any teammate rivalry Button ever had with any teammate that cost the team points
        Missing is point 5 availbaility & cost also here Button scores well as is available

        1. @jelle van der meer
          Button was “better” at McLaren when Hamilton was teed off because his car kept quitting on him and that team gave him a car that too many times failed when he was leading races, well in front of Jenson. Which is why he left, and at the perfect time to join Mercedes, when everyone in the industry at the time thought it was a mistake. Rubens Barichello gave Jenson fits in Button’s championship season late in that year, and Rubens was the one with all the unreliability and technical issues with brakes, gearboxes, etc etc. and was still nipping at Button’s heels. Stop the madness.

    2. @robbie Well it depends whether you want a polemic Mansell-Piquet rivalry or a competitive dynamic that keeps one of the greatest drivers of all time on his toes. If Mercedes wants the later, a Bottas stop-gap for 2017 preceded by either Ricciardo, Sainz or Vandoorne for 2018 is the best course of action.

  19. Oh well. Another idea bites the dust. Seems like it is almost certain to be Wehrlein as everyone else is under contract. Toto has indicated there are problems with Bottas leaving Williams and their sponsors. Basically they don’t want two rookies I guess. So it’s got to be Wehrlein now hasn’t it?

  20. For Hamilton fans that is great news. For non-Hamilton fans and most F1 fans, this is yet another nail in the coffin.

    Wolff claims he wants a driver who can race “wheel to wheel” with HAM. As I see it, there are only 2 or 3 drivers in that category – ALO , RIC and maybe VET. The last 2 are not available.

    Do they really think Pascal or Bottas can race wheel to wheel with HAM? In essence, HAM has a rear gunner much the same while at McLaren (with Heiki) although BUT did pressure him a bit with consistency.

    For those who think ALO not getting a Merc seat is a good thing, understand HAM’s titles are Vettelesque and he will never be acknowledged as one of the greats until he beats one of the greats – that being ALO. Especially after losing to ROS this year. And no, 2007 is not enough evidence that he is better than ALO. Driving against an opponent with the same equipment is the best indicator.

    My hope is that Red Bull or Red have closed the gap enough so that they can put pressure on HAM but I don’t see that happening. It will be another boring year and F1 will lose even more viewers. F1 loses out again.

    1. If 2007 is not sufficient for you given the circumstances and results then I suspect nothing ever will be.

      It is unarguable – he finished ahead despite some truly ridiculous Maclaren decisions in the last couple of races.

      In the same equipment.
      As a Rookie.

      As a 3 X champion with 50 plus victories? In his absolute prime?

      With three to four years effectively ‘in the team’

      It is not as though Alonso can come in as his usual ‘no 1’ requirement after demolishing his weaker team mates. It won’t happen.

      Alonso is a far better racer than Rosberg but he has never had the same level of one lap speed and I suspect that would be very difficult to overcome these days. Unless Mercedes spend the race getting him the 1-2!

      Fun to watch though…

    2. HAM’s titles are Vettelesque

      Desperate stuff. Hamilton has won the championship with two different teams, won every year, and is almost universally acknowledged as being one of the faster ever drivers and one of the best ever racers.

      And he’s already beaten Alonso.

    3. “HAM’s titles are Vettelesque and he will never be acknowledged as one of the greats until he beats one of the greats – that being ALO.”

      Mike…. you’re a joker.

      ‘Nuff said!

    4. Totally agree on Ham’s titles.. he lucked into the first and had the fastest car in the other two years. He was beaten truly by Button one season, through no fault of the equipment. As for the fools that choose to say Hamilton and Alonso had equal equipment in that one year, anyone with a brain knows Alonso and the team were parting ways and it was held against him. Don’t waste your time trying to educate the ignorant though. Rosberg is quite like Webber. I doubt Alonso would ever get beaten by either as a team mate.

  21. It was always a pipe-dream; but any measure of reality it was never going to happen. It simply would not have made sense for Mercedes to invest in buying a driver probably no less than three years from retirement out of a eight digit contract. Yes Alonso is still driving spectacularly, and yes, would be deserving of more titles, but remember: who was Red Bull’s first choice to replace Coulthard for 2009? It was Alonso, not Vettel. Turning down the one-year deal offered to him (so switching from Renault to Red Bull would have had no impact on his ability to contend for the Ferrari seat that was set to open up for 2010) inadvertently cost him four, maybe five world titles.

    Turning down a manufacturer-level venture backed by a design genius in Adrian Newey is the exact same opportunity that Hamilton failed to overlook when Niki Lauda and Ross Brawn came knocking in 2012.

    Instead of pining for Alonso, let’s hope that Mercedes can release Valtteri Bottas from Williams, so we can at least enjoy a mildly competitive dynamic at Mercedes next year versus seeing Wehrlein receiving sledgehammer tutelage from a champion in the form of his life week-in-week-out. Hopefully Sainz, Vettel or Ricciardo can fully restore the internal competitive order come 2018.

    1. I agree, the Mercedes seat belongs to one of either Sergio Perez (101 points) or Valtteri Bottas (85 points). What is the point in Mercedes having a say in who drives for Force India and Williams if they aren’t willing to promote those drivers to the top team when the opportunity arises?

      1. Bottas is fine if all you want is a mildly competitive dynamic. I want more than that – F1 needs more than that to bring the fans back and keep from losing more.

  22. Peppermint-Lemon (@)
    9th December 2016, 16:34

    I hope this is smoke and mirrors ready for Alonso to go to Merc.

    Merc should just let wehrlein go to McLaren foc in exchange for Alonso . Vandoorne even as a rookie would beat wehrlein and be no1 in the team.

    1. A team like Mclaren having two rookies? In the season that sees massives changes in regulations…no chance. Alonso will be driving for mclaren in 2017.

  23. Why would he? Legacy over if he loses yes he has something to gain but he aint beating Hamilton in qually for starters so what then? Oh he culd rely on Lewis being an awful starter which has happened once in a ten year carear. I hope it happens just to show the “Lewis was not pushed” Nico would have had an easier time with Alo or Button in qually and that is 90%of the work in the Merc. Ham race pace improved a great deal when needed. Ros faired well really vs Hamilton in qually so god knows how Alo would have done better at 36

  24. Oh yes he will…

  25. I think it has to be Wehrlein now doesn’t it? Everyone else they might be considering is under contract. Toto has said he does not want to disrupt existing contracts.

    Toto has also said that for Williams letting Bottas go would create a problem for their sponsors. I guess they would not want two F1 rookies in the team.

    I guess there must be some concern somewhere in Mercedes about Pascal’s promotion but it could equally be that they are keeping the suspense going because it means the team are being talked about.

  26. Alonso should kick Briatores rear end to kingdom come and start fitting a seat in the merc

    1. Or maybe it’s a roundabout way of saying Mercedes have effectively told him they don’t actually want Alonso.

      1. Yeah, maybe they sent him a walking stick..

  27. Is it not bad business from Alonso’s management team. To not have a get out clause in the deal is surely naive. A golden opportunity has come up and Alonso is stuck. Did they think Mclaren Honda would be competitive from the start? Maybe another bad career move for Fernando

  28. Briatore confirmed to press that Toto and Niki did not agreed to make Hamilton crash against the wall to benefit Alonso if they are teammates again.

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