Fernando Alonso, McLaren, Silverstone, 2017

The 2018 F1 driver market: Alonso lacks McLaren alternatives

2018 F1 season

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Closed doors, burned bridges, sideways moves: Fernando Alonso would be forgiven for feeling dejected as he surveys his options for the 2018 F1 season.

While he could hardly have done a better job of reminding team bosses of his abilities this year, none of the top squads look likely to make room for him once his contact with McLaren expires after November’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Red Bull’s junior driver programme has supplied them with two stars in the shape of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo. A return to Ferrari, which he left three years ago frustrated at their lack of progress, is unrealistic.

Toto Wolff, Flavio Briatore, Monza, 2016
Wolff appears not to want Briatore’s man
And Mercedes? Toto Wolff made it clear last month they’re not looking to bring in Alonso.

“Without any doubt he’s an important personality in Formula One and a great driver and Honda and McLaren appreciate that,” said Wolff. “With us at the moment we are really happy with the line-up.”

“I know it’s not the answer you want to hear but stability is an important factor, the dynamics between the drivers is an important factor and we have no reason to complain.”

A driver of Alonso’s calibre is unlikely to settle for anything less than a place at a team aligned with a manufacturer. But no new manufacturers are likely to arrive before 2020, when F1’s next new engine regulations appear. Can Alonso stand to wait that long?

In the meantime he’s left with a choice of staying at McLaren, moving to Renault or leaving F1. Tied in with this is the question of McLaren’s engine plans for 2018, which appears to now be a straight choice between persevering with Honda or becoming a Renault customer.

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(The latter scenario may seem unrealistic. Switching to Renault would mean McLaren go from getting F1’s least competitive engines for free to getting the second-worst power units for a price. It would also leave the team at the added disadvantage of having to accept Renault’s preferred engine design specifications instead of giving their own input.

But patience with Honda has worn thin after three years of serious under-performance. And those within McLaren eager to try an alternative can point to the fact Red Bull have already won a race with [TAG Heuer-branded] Renaults this year.)

IndyCar 2018 road course aerodynamic kit test, Mid-Ohio, 2017
Could Alonso be tempted away by new-look IndyCar?
Will Alonso desert F1 completley? There’s one good reason to expect not. Last year he said he would only stay in F1 beyond the end of his current McLaren contract if the cars delivered more driving satisfaction in 2017. The arrival of more spectacular cars this year has ticked that box.

Nonetheless his Indianapolis 500 run this year inevitably prompted speculation he could make a full-time switch to IndyCar racing if he doesn’t have a good enough offer for F1. But as Alonso has repeatedly pointed out his target in America is the Indianapolis 500 leg of the ‘triple crown’, not the championship.

While IndyCar’s shorter, more compact calendar may appeal to a driver who has has voiced concerns about F1’s growing schedule, Alonso knows from his competitive run at Indianapolis this year that he doesn’t need to do a full season to stand a chance of winning the race. When interviewed about it during a live IndyCar race broadcast in June, Alonso played down the possibility of a full-time IndyCar switch.

One factor in favour of Alonso making a full-time switch to IndyCar next year is the arrival of the championship’s new aerodynamic kit. Six years of accumulated set-up knowledge will be wiped out, making 2018 a good time for a new driver to come into the series. Even so, it seems an unlikely move.

The Le Mans 24 Hours is another of Alonso’s career goals. Crucially, Alonso can tackle this race without having to miss a grand prix. But now Porsche has followed Audi in quitting the series, Alonso’s chances of racing there appear to have diminished. Even if Toyota stays, there is no way he could drive for them while also being under contract to McLaren and Toyota’s major domestic market rival Honda.

Jolyon Palmer, Renault, Monaco, 2017
A third spell at Renault is a possibility
All this seems to point to Alonso staying in F1, which he has already said is his first choice. A third stint at Renault appears to be a possibility as his management is known to have spoken with the team.

However Renault is also investigating the feasibility of Robert Kubica making a return to drive for them. Alonso has heaped praise on his rival in the past but would he really stand in the way of him returning to get his hands on a better drive for next year? Alonso must be eyeing the huge year-on-year performance gain Renault have made over the last 12 months and thinking “if they do that again next year…”

The counter-argument to this is Renault were always going to make strides in 2017 because their 2016 car was so underdeveloped. McLaren could arguably be a better prospect once Honda embark on the second year with the revised power unit design philosophy they introduced this year.

If Alonso is going to remain in F1 this could be the decision he faces. But with both cars unlikely to be contenders for race wins let alone championships next year, could Alonso’s extra-curricular activities be the deal breaker? Staying at McLaren for another year would at least give him the option of returning to the Indianapolis 500.

It might have seemed impossible a few months ago, but sticking it out for one more year at McLaren could be Alonso’s best option for 2018 before seeing if better options appear the year after.

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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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  • 76 comments on “The 2018 F1 driver market: Alonso lacks McLaren alternatives”

    1. I think switching to IndyCar full time is Alonso’s best option. He wants to win races!
      I think he’s been downplaying it — that’s what all sports people do ahead of a move — but he got a taste of it this year at Indianapolis and he built up his network across the pond. With the new aero specs coming up, this is the time to have a big impact as a driver with his experience. It’s got to be.

      1. He absolutely has nothing to lose and everything to gain by moving with Mclaren and Honda to the Indy Series in 2018 . 2 to 3 years in Indy and then give it away.
        I don’t see Montoya crying over leaving F1 and he’s not half the driver Alonso is .

        1. “I don’t see Montoya crying over leaving F1 and he’s not half the driver Alonso is .”
          Woah woah WOAH Zeke, calm down there cowboy. Montoya and Alonso are in the same league. You can’t not realize that.
          And on a second thought, they are very much alike.

          1. The small matter of 2 world championships sets Alonso apart from Montoya mate. Alonso is absolutely a better driver no question.

            1. “The small matter of 2 world championships sets Alonso apart from Montoya mate”.
              No, they don’t. WDCs are accomplishments, and accomplishments in F1 are function of opportunities. And that’s not what we’re talking about!
              When talking about who is what kind of a driver – because you made a claim in that aspect – then the no. of WDCs doesn’t prove you’re a faster driver or a better racer.

              Jenson Button has a WDC. Is he a better racing driver than Juan Pablo Montoya? Come on.

              One could also argue about how JPM never was a backmarker, unlike Alonso… See the point?

            2. @damon, of course, Montoya had the privilege of always driving for manufacturer backed teams in his career, rather than having to start his career in a smaller team like Alonso did with Minardi.

              Personally, I think you are being a bit charitable with your assessment – Montoya might have been good in the past, but I do think that he has passed the peak of his performance (he did seem to drop off in performance in Indycar recently, especially last year given he was the lowest ranked driver for his team).

            3. Montoya was destroyed by Räikkönen when they were both at McLaren. Enough said.

          2. I was bummed when Montoya left F1.

      2. @sihrtogg In the news roundup, it says McLaren are looking at Indycar for 2019. I reckon Alonso will stay for next year and will race in Indycar for McLaren in 2019.

    2. He will not leave F1 for Indycar. His stated goal is 3 F1 championships. That door is still not entirely closed.

      1. Alonso will never see another F1 WDC, he needs to face that fact.

        1. I think you need to research the definition of ‘fact’ – I wouldn’t be surprised to see him win another. Unlikely, granted, but not impossible by any stretch.

          1. @ben-n, I think you need to research the definition of hyperbole ;)

            1. @Damon
              Evidently YOU need to research the definition of hyperbole and not Ben.
              “exaggerated statements or claims not meant to be taken literally”.
              Zeke DOES mean it literally. Where did you get your info?

          2. @ben-n Exactly, not impossible. Hamilton might retire after 2018 and even if Vettel takes his place, Ferrari might then take Alonso back. McLaren did.

            Or who knows with the new engine format. Maybe Honda will ace that.

            1. The point I make is because there is now so much more younger talent on the grid and waiting in the wings to prevent him from even getting a drive let alone win a WDC . Why on earth would any team pay his astronomical salary when there are drivers that will come on the market in 2018/19 for half the price that can get the job done with half the grief,aka Ric,Max,Bottas,,Ocon.
              Vettel falls into the same category as Alonso as he’s becoming a bit more of a primadona at Ferrari and shows no more real talent than those I’ve listed and costs an absolute fortune .

            2. I would suggest that FA would not make a high salary an obstacle to a top ride. He doesn’t need more money. What he needs is a top ride. Would not surprise me one bit if he offered to drive at Mercedes for free.

    3. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
      11th August 2017, 12:49

      Does anyone know the present situation with Andretti’s potential switch to Chevrolet?

    4. Pending any surprises I think it’s another year at McLaren for Alonso.

      Renault doesn’t really offer a better option at this point in time and any return would surely be nostalgia driven.

      Mercedes and Red Bull are full unless Bottas is treated unbelievably unfairly. Ferrari is a burnt bridge and it’s unlikely Vettel would accept Alonso as a team-mate.

      Which leaves McLaren or a left-field choice such as Williams, which I just can’t see.

      I’ve seen a rumour that Lawrence Stroll is interested in buying Force India, which could see Lance move there. This would likely free up both Williams seats… something else to consider.

      1. I agree – Alonso will stay. The money is good and Honda might be getting their act together though they won’t be getting podiums anytime soon.
        I think he has come to accept the fact the chances of a championship is slim but he seems to be finding ways of making the best of it.
        I wouldn’t count him out just yet though – stranger things have happened and he is still one of, if not the best out there.
        I think he has another 3 or 4 years and if he gets a can’t miss car like HAM he could easily win another WDC.

      2. Marian Gri (@)
        11th August 2017, 18:23

        In my opinion there’s no chance to see ALO at RBR ever, I kinda hardly believe he’ll ever drive for Mercedes, do not think he’ll get a seat at Ferrari ever either. But, from top 3, most chances IMO are at Ferrari.

      3. @ben-n Where’s the Stroll rumour from?

        1. @keithcollantine – granted not the most reliable of sources, but this is one of a few that I’ve seen:

          Doesn’t seem likely in all honesty, but interesting to consider.

    5. There was so much noise when he was about to leave Ferrari, “I am in a position to control F1 market, bla bla, will do what’s best for me and ferrari” (was not wrong about ferrari though). He won’t get the same attention he got at that time, and he shouldn’t. I wouldn’t pay him more than 10 mln if I brought him to my team, he is not worth at the moment. I’d rather get Max, despite not liking him particularly. He has done his part, he became 2 times WC, without Ferrari or Mercedes he should give up being a champion again.

      1. Max’ chances are slim and none at this point. He is fast, very fast but he is not in control at times. Too many Incidents such as Hungary show his immaturity and Ferrari doesn’t in the business of grooming drivers. Then there is the issue of his father who shoots his mouth off, even at RB after all they have done for Max. What team wants to deal with that?

        Ricciardo would be a much better choice at this point BUT if Vettel extends his contract he won’t likely get a shot anytime soon. Rarely does a team with a top driver allow another driver of his caliber on the team. For now, Vettel rules at Red.

    6. tgu (@thegrapeunwashed)
      11th August 2017, 13:02

      Alonso ought to switch to Renault, it looks like it’s making great strides. McLaren should stick with Honda as it can afford to wait for a few more years for the engines to come good; a successful Honda is the team’s best chance of competing for championships, if it gives in and goes down the customer engine route it will signal a lack of ambition and an acceptance of remaining in amongst the Force Indias and Williams of the world.

    7. I really hope he remains in F1. Indycar may be fun to watch but my love is clearly F1. Furthermore it is an american competition with american schedules, places and commentary.

    8. Here’s how I see it.

      Alonso staying at Mclaren – I say YES:
      – Because there’s nowhere else to go.
      – Because he’d be free to race Indy or LeMans if they kept being terrible.

      Alonso to Renault – I say NO:
      – He would not want to push himself in before Kubica.
      – At 36 years of age, he won’t join a backrunner team just on a promise of them someday being a frontrunner.

      Alonso to IndyCar – I say chances are slim:
      – NO, because he never had the intention to go a full season.
      – NO, because at 36 years old he knows it’s either staying in F1 or leaving for ever.
      – NO, because the stench of Honda is insufferable.
      – YES, if Andretti switch to Chevrolet engines and the frustration in F1 goes over the limit.

      1. @damon If Alonso thought that the Renault had a chance of being very competitive next year and had the opportunity he would take that seat without a second thought. Alonso will not sing the praises of drivers who have more WDC’s than him, or who are his main competitors!

      2. Alonso staying at Mclaren – I say YES:

        – Because he is being paid an awful lot of $$$ by McLaren. More than any other team would be prepared to offer him.

    9. I’m always bemused when F1 folk threaten to leave for Indycar. The 500 and perhaps Long Beach excepted, the races don’t come close to F1 in terms of spectators and interest. Look at how many empty sidepods there were on cars at Detroit 1 week after the 500. I’ve loved Indycar since the late 80’s, but Alonso would be shocked by the safety at some tracks compared to F1.

      Why not go race in Super Formula in Japan?

      1. Because he wants to win the triple crown.

      2. Superformula? Are you mad!

    10. Any chance of seeing VB in Ferrari next year?

      1. I agree, that is a reasonable scenario. Toto has said he wants Bottas, but it sounds as though the decision isn’t his. I’m not sure what the exact “pecking order” is, but until Mercedes announce who has the contract for that seat then I don’t think we can expect many other teams to finalise their drivers for next year either.

        1. Doesn’t Toto manage Bottas though? I really don’t see this happening.

          1. Sundar Srinivas Harish
            12th August 2017, 0:59

            Toto resigned as Bottas’ manager after he was signed at Merc. But honestly, I don’t see VB being replaced next year, he’s proven to be at least as strong a driver as Ricciardo in a front-running car, and a fair team player.

      2. I think Vettel would veto Bottas joining Red if he stays – Bottas is too much competition for his liking.
        Vettel wants a rear gunner and Kimi is OK with that – they are also good friends so harmony isn’t a problem.

    11. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him remain at McLaren Honda for F1 2018/19, but also in that time drive a McLaren GT at Le Mans and another McLaren badged car at the Indy 500.

      1. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
        11th August 2017, 14:55

        A GT win wouldn’t count towards the triple crown so I can’t see him being interested, much like a full Indy season

        1. There won’t be many prototypes left racing! Maybe they put together an LMP2 chassis?

          1. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
            11th August 2017, 16:44

            That would be excellent and feasible. I guess it depends on whether Toyota fancy racing themselves for that elusive win

      2. If Alonso’s aim is to achieve the Triple Crown (an F1 win at Monaco, win at the Indianapolis 500, and member of winning team at the Le Mans 24 hour race), then he will have to have another attempt at Indy as he didn’t win it this year. McLaren-Honda seem to be the only team that will tolerate his absence (although he could negotiate that into his next contract), so it will depend on how important the Triple Crown is to him.

    12. Estaban de los Casas
      11th August 2017, 16:02

      The history books will be ripe with the tale of Alonso and his racing pursuits. Its a shame that its not the five time drivers champion he was almost but instead rolling the dice on the potential of big name teams that produced only frustration and wasted time. Its just called racers luck.

    13. I think replacing Massa @ Williams is an interesting option.
      Williams certainly have the technical ability to field a competitive car that might be capable of a n occasional win in his hands. Massa is clearly on the down side of his career & Stroll could no doubt benefit from Alonzo’s expertise in setting up the car.

      1. I don’t think there’s any chance of him joining a customer team, unless it’s one he knows is going to become a manufacturer team soon afterwards.

        1. No disrespect, but you realize that by extension you are saying that he wouldn’t be prepared to join Red Bull if they were to offer… :)

          1. RBR is different though (not that there’s a spot for him there). RBR was Renault’s works team, still has a more tight relationship than any other ‘customer’ team if you will, and they also have the budget of a manufacturer team vs. for this conversation, Williams. And RBR is currently doing better than their factory counterpart, Renault themselves.

    14. Alonso is one of F1’s all time greats but his career is full of dodgy decisions that did not go his way.

      1. Instead of confronting the team and eventually leaving McLaren after the 2007 shenanigans, Alonso could have been more diplomatic and remained with that team for at least 2 more years.
      2. He left Ferrari after 2014 just as the team had started to iron out some of their problems as the incoming Vettel showed.

      But for all that, IMO it is still not too late for a third WDC. Whatever the team bosses are saying now, there is still a chance that he might get a seat in one of the front-line teams for 2018.

      I have a feeling that Raikkonen might leave Ferrari (and F1) for good of his own accord if, as is likely, he continues to lag significantly behind Vettel in the second part of the 2017 season. That would almost certainly mean that Ferrari lose the WCC to Mercedes, irrespective of who wins the WDC. At Maranello, the WCC is at least as important as the WDC and in terms of team pride, perhaps more so. That being the case, they would want a strong driver to replace Raikkonen and in Alonso they have one. Yes, there could be potential for severe rivalry with Vettel and Alonso in the same team but that is still a consideration.

      A Mercedes seat for Alonso in 2018 is admittedly far less likely unless there is some sort of confrontation between Hamilton and the team in the second half of the 2017 season prompting a split.

      1. “I have a feeling that Raikkonen might leave Ferrari (and F1) for good of his own accord if, as is likely, he continues to lag significantly behind Vettel in the second part of the 2017 season. ”

        Why would he leave a team that gives him one of only 4 winning cars in the field?
        At 37 years of age, turning 38 in october, I don’t think being second to a 4-time WDC in Vettel could be a reason for leaving Ferrari and what – joining a backmarker team? Nah.

        “That being the case, they would want a strong driver to replace Raikkonen…”
        Wow, mate, you put the bar for what it means to be a strong driver very high…. like sky high.
        I will remind you: Sebastian Vettel is one of the fastest drivers of the last decade. Kimi outqualified him last year, and this year he did it on 27% of occasions, which might be even more appropriate in a dynamic between drivers of a top team. I don’t think a team like Ferrari looks after a pair of drivers who compete against each other and create friction.

        1. Marian Gri (@)
          11th August 2017, 18:20

          Not to mention the money: 7mil in the back, 10mil max given the performance. Who’s going to pay RAI at least 7mil per year anymore??!! Does he have a business that guarantees him that kind of revenue per year?? Do not think so, it’s a matter of money for him too in my opinion.

          1. I think the same. He’s holding his seat just for money.

      2. At Maranello, the WCC is at least as important as the WDC and in terms of team pride, perhaps more so.

        Isn’t it the opposite? I thought at Ferrari it is mostly the WDC that counts, whereas the WCC is secondary.


        1. Most of the time the WDC winner had the WCC winning car. They almost always go hand in hand.

        2. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
          11th August 2017, 22:03

          The “no two roosters” philosophy would suggest the WDC is the main aim

          1. Hmmmm, in the past, the WCC is and has been the major target for those teams who make road cars. Enzo could care less who drove his cars and treated his drivers like effluent. His philosophies have endured at Ferrari although they’re a bit more polite to their drivers. Colin Chapman was also all about WCC and I’m pretty sure that now McLaren is for the same reasons. The main raision d’etre now for ALL teams, is about cash. It’s the WCC that brings teams the financial rewards not WDC.

      3. I can’t see Alonso returning next year to Ferrari. Marchionne Telling Alonso is nbot welcome and then signing him next year, Everyone will be mocking Marchionne so Marchionne ego is to big and they will sign a nr2 driver for Vettel.

    15. I hope he stay in formula 1 and in McLaren.
      A enjoy looking him fighting for those back positions and telling all of us that “this was the better race in my life”.
      In the meantime, Vettel, Bottas and Hamilton are fighting for the championship and racing bad races.
      Said that, I think McLaren and Honda will have a very best year in 2018.

    16. I’ll sound like a broken record here but I still haven’t given up hope for FA to Mercedes.

      I do realize the comments made have been adding up to me being wrong, although there is nothing wrong or illogical with my reasons for why FA/LH would be a barnstormer of a time and great for F1 and the fans. I know I’m not alone in that thinking. TW has implied it himself.

      I’ll wait for an official announcement, lol like I have a choice, and what I cling to is just things like when TW says ‘at the moment’ they are happy with the pairing they have. I question if TW will still be happy with the pairing if he has to make VB a number two, and/or if SV wins the WDC. Won’t he want two WDC’s on the team to go after Ferrari next year?

      It will be what it will be, but I think it will be a shame if we have another season after this one of VB letting LH by, while FA sits without a worthy ride.

      There seems to be too much confidence from people that FA won’t be at Mercedes, and so be it if that’s the case, but what a shame. I don’t envision much racing going on a Mercedes this year or next if it’s LH/VB. nor at Ferrari. Love watching Max though. Perhaps 2019 will be a more enthralling year.

    17. I think he will stay at McLaren.
      I think Honda is starting to “get it” and will make huge gains by next season’s start – more upgrades are coming this season.
      They have been mercilessly criticized and some of it for good reason but I believe McLaren and their “size zero” concept set Honda up for failure from the start. Not to mention the fact Dennis prevented Honda from supplying another team.

      I think Nando is at or near his peak and will be for a few more years – a lot can happen in that period of time. He may not win a WDC but would no doubt cause front runners some headaches.

    18. It will be interesting to see Flavio out there greasing palms.

      1. I think Flavio will be driving into a wall there , oh wait on that’s what happened to the last guy who tried to help Alonso out.

    19. What this article and discussion makes clear is that while FA may be the linchpin amongst drivers, the 2018 driver market will be decided by what Mercedes and Ferrari chooses to do. As @keithcollantine says/hints at elsewhere, anything other than Hamilton – Bottas at Mercedes and Vettel – Räikkönen at Ferrari would be a major sensation: both Bottas and Räikkönen are delivering exactly what their teams want* with minimum disruption within the respective garages. Also his conclusion that “sticking it out for one more year at McLaren could be Alonso’s best option for 2018 before seeing if better options appear the year after” is spot on.

      * As for Räikkönen not delivering enough points, as Ferrari president Marchionne is fond of claiming, he can always point to Monaco and Hungary where he would have won had not Ferrari engineered wins for Vettel as well as being taken out by other drivers in Spain and Azerbaijan where podiums were definitely on the cards. Had he won the first two and finished second in the others, the current scoreline could be Hamilton 188, Vettel 186, Räikkönen 172, Bottas 166.

      1. @Henrik: But there’s a problem with that: hamilton couldn’t pass verstappen nor raikkonen in hungary, what makes you think raikkonen could pass vettel? Was he that much faster than vettel, more than hamilton was faster than verstappen or raikkonen?

        Other thing, raikkonen was way too slow at monaco in the section where he lost out to vettel, would’ve probably been jumped either way.

        Other thing, it’s ok to consider spain and baku as each of the protagonists got points there, except bottas due to engine in spain, which is offset (partly) by raikkonen’s puncture at silverstone, but how can you claim he’d have got 2nd? Mercedes were superior, he would be at the very best 3rd at baku, and in spain seeing the insane battle hamilton-vettel he would’ve got 3rd again.

        Some points recovered ofc, but 2nd is exageration.

        1. No problem! Hungary – if Kimi had not immediately obeyed the call to pit but stayed out one more lap, he would have been ahead of Vettel. Monaco, same issue – had Ferrari not stage-managed the pit stops, Kimi would have remained ahead and Vettel stuck with the problem of getting past.

          Baku – Kimi was faster than Bottas and would have been first on track once Hamilton had suffered the head protection detachment and Vettel his brain fade. In fact he would probably have won but I’ve chosen to give Ricciardo the benefit of the doubt in saying Kimi could have been second. Spain – had Bottas not smashed into Kimi and launched him into Verstappen, Kimi would have been ahead of both but Bottas would have been behind Verstappen…

          If you want to nit-pick, I’ll concede that Räikkönen would have ended 3rd in Spain (-3 pts on my estimation) but then I claim Baku as a win for him (+8 pts on my estimation). Monaco and Hungary, Räikkönen would have won had Ferrari not stage-managed the pit stops, it’s idle to pretend otherwise. But Esploratore – the *whole point* of my what-if is to illustrate how wide of the mark Sergio Marchionne is when he publicly chides Räikkönen for poor form and not bringing home enough points as well as how easily Räikkönen can refute such charges and consequently, how strong a position he is in ahead of 2018.

    20. Hopefully Alonso will stay at Mclaren AND Honda will finally get its act together.

      It would be brilliant to see him going toe to to with Hamilton in a Mercedes, Vettel in a Ferrari and the duo from Red Bull in roughly equivalent machinery.

      As much as Mercedes say they give the other teams exactly the same PU, if that was “really” the case, Ron Dennis wouldn’t have opted for the Honda solution.

      I’d really like to see that come to fruition and see the Honda PU up there with the Mercedes and Ferrari one. Too late to see it in 2017 (although they’re making gains) but I still hold out hope for 2018 if only because the top PU’s are likely to level out in terms of gains.

      Alonso’s not stupid. He knows that his only real chance of a competitive drive is right where he is.

    21. I would love to see him on the road and street courses in an IndyCar, and how he stacks up against the best drivers in in the series! Oval performance is so dependent on the car (but obviously being a good driver helps).

    22. I don’t believe a company like Honda can stay down forever. Granted, they have made a complete shambles of their F1 return, but if McLaren stick with them, I do believe that at some point they would be winning races and championships together again. Look how much stronger Williams are than a few years ago; and Sauber’s future is looking more promising too. I think McLaren should stick with Honda and reap the rewards of the incredibly long gestation period. So I don’t think it would be so bad for Alonso to stay another year and see how it goes. Then again, I guess everyone was saying this at the end of 2015 and 2016, and look how bad they still are.

      In a nutshell, I’m thinking “continuity”.

      1. “Look how much stronger Williams are than a few years ago”
        @shimks, the last time Williams were a championship contender was 1997 – exactly 20 years ago. Not being awful or being decent is not the level FA needs from his team.

        1. @Damon: Well, no, what about the 2003 williams? That was the best chassis, some people said, and definitely a contender with ferrari and mclaren.

    23. Burned bridges is not such a clear thing. Generally you burn bridges with people, not with commercial entities. Rarely do you do it in such fashion that many people in a corporation or race team actually hate you so much to not ever work with you. Therefore I think alonso’s burned bridge with ferrari is a bit like his burned bridge with mclaren after 2007. It was not a burned bridge with the team. It was with certain people in the team. Namely ron dennis I think.

      Who at ferrari has a beef with alonso? All of them? No. One or more people? More likely. Unless it is merchionne then those opinions will eventually fade out as people move to different teams. And if merchionne’s hand was forced due to unseen circumstances I’m sure he would still take alonso over someone like perez, grosjean or hulkenberg. After all you even have kimi driving at ferrari. Kimi who was effectively kicked out of f1 with full salary because the team preferred to pay and not let him drive. Yet he went back to ferrari. Not to forget pat symonds who was one of the architects in the crashgate scandal who came back too.

      I don’t see alonso going to ferrari being an impossibility. A lot depends how the pieces fall when 2018 or 2019 comes. Rosberg quit the sport with a few days’ notice. Could lewis, kimi or even vettel do the same? I don’t see it being impossible. All it takes is to vettel or hamilton wanting to make a change and we see the dominos start falling. And no matter what bridges are on fire alonso is still one of the biggest dominos on that board.

      And his other options are melting away. Wec is not so lucrative option all of a sudden and indycar is a clear step down. Formula e is a joke really. Sportscars are even lower than indycar and just like dtm or supergt – a retirement plan. Switching series because you are forced to rarely leads to better motivation or top level performance.

      1. Wec is not so lucrative option all of a sudden
        – Agreed. Although I’m very impressed and surprised with their race attendance numbers.

        and indycar is a clear step down.
        – It’s a step down, but the smallest step down possible. Also, it could be considered just a step to the side, because IndyCar has its own prestige and is the only series in the world that actually can throw jabs at F1 and win over fans…. which it has been doing a lot this year.

        Formula e is a joke really.
        – Agreed. I can’t fathom how it can even be in the discussion. The huge manufacturer money that is coming into the series sure does its job.

        Sportscars are even lower than indycar and just like dtm or supergt – a retirement plan.
        – There’s no “even” in that sentence! IndyCar is the second most prestigious racing car series in the world, come on, mate.
        I really hoped for DTM do develop beyond just a national touring car championship, the way they were going for in the 90’s, but that won’t happen, even more so with the departure of Mercedes.

    24. Alonso is not going to get a seat at Merc or Ferrari because they have top tier drivers. If Vettel leaves Ferrari he could go back.

      Some fans want him to go away and get young blood in even though he is at his best and has several more years if he wishes.

      Unlike the Ferrari, Merc and RB follow the leader train at the front in Hungary, Alonso made the overtake of the day. He also had the fastest lap (3 tenths faster than Kimi) in a car that had no business being there. See link below.

      He’s still one of, if not the best. if McHonda get him a competitive car, all hell will break loose up front. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.


    25. The best thing he could do right now would be to sign 1yr contracts and leave himself able to change direction quickly and easily.

      What @keithcollantine forgot to mention is that he said, repeatedly in the same interview, that he is not worried and that he will be in a winning car next year — wherever that is.

      To me, that means Mercedes or Andretti Autosport. The Mercedes door seems to have closed.

      He could also stand to make an absolute fortune from it while he waits for rides to become available; Fernando Alonso in Indycar gives it immediate credibility and instantly will send the viewership through the roof. Other deals could be made with Indycar to entice Alonso. I know that if I were running Indycar, I’d be doing everything in my power to make sure Alonso is in a winning car in that series next year.

    26. Who has Alonso burned bridges with? seems to be a nice little catch phrase but…..

      he turned down Brawn (no longer in charge of F1 team)

      Had a big row with Martin Whitmarsh (who brought him back to McLaren)

      Left Ferrari (who are now different personnel)

      anyone using this catch phrase please name names…………..

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