Fernando Alonso, McLaren, Spa-Francorchamps, 2017

Alonso insists he didn’t retire a healthy car

2017 Belgian Grand Prix

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Fernando Alonso insisted he was forced out of the Belgian Grand Prix with a power unit problem.

The McLaren driver gave a series of unhappy messages on the radio during the race and also asked if there was any chance rain might fall shortly before retiring.

Esteban Ocon, Force India, Spa-Francorchamps, 2017
Belgian Grand Prix in pictures
However speaking to journalists after the race Alonso said “it was a problem, an engine problem. We lost the power unfortunately.”

“It was a difficult race, maybe the points were impossible today, let’s see what we can do next week.”

Alonso’s future at McLaren remains in doubt beyond the end of the season but he indicated he is still open to remaining at the team.

“I think we will see what happens in the next couple of weeks,” he said. “I’m happy with the team I think we are having tough seasons so far in the last three.”

“But McLaren is one of the best teams in the world, I will be happy to keep working with them but we need to see how things will evolve in the next couple of weeks.”

Alonso’s Belgian Grand Prix radio messages

Alonso made it up to seventh on the first lap of the race but was passed by Nico Hulkenberg and a series of other cars which dropped him out of the points. Here are a selection of his radio messages which were broadcast before he retired:

Alonso: “Embarrassing, really embarrassing.”
“Yep Fernando we see that. Be careful, we have two warnings for turn four.”

“Magnussen is 1.2s behind Grosjean.”
Alonso: “I really don’t care about all the gaps too much. This is just a test.”

“Fernando suggest shape four to protect the rears.”
Alonso: “No more radio for the rest of the race.”

“Fernando, Stoffel is pitting this lap.”
Alonso: “Why? The only [censored by FOM] car that I will overtake.”
“Fernando we didn’t want to be pushed back into Hulkenberg and Stroll. Sorry Palmer and Stoll.”
Alonso: “They will pass me in the next lap. I have no protection now. But anyway it doesn’t change my life.”

Alonso: “Any rain expected?”
“No, no rain on the radar.”

Alonso: “Engine problem. Engine problem.”
“Yeah let’s box to retire the car.”

2017 Belgian Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
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  • 42 comments on “Alonso insists he didn’t retire a healthy car”

    1. He was asking for rain (and battling Palmer) moments before retiring. This isn’t the first time that Alonso has retired a car that seemingly had no issues (most engine issues go on track, they do for Honda and they do for others) and it’s about time someone seriously pulls him up on this. Obviously McLaren will let any transgression slip because they desperately want to keep him, but if we as F1 community have to keep believing the almost gargantuan hype on Alonso’s performances in that McLaren you bet I am gonna believe that he’s retiring that car too soon. It just fits in his entire nature.

      1. @hahostolze, to be fair to Alonso, although there was only a limited amount of audio on the world feed, as he was coming into the pits the engine did sound as if it wasn’t running properly (I know the Honda has a rough sounding engine note at the best of times, but it sounded as if one of the cylinders had cut out).

      2. He was battling Palmer hard for position just before he retired…I wouldn’t call that lack of commitment.

        He was pushing as hard as he could, frustrated, but still doing his job. Alonso is not one to back out of a race, regardless of circumstance.

      3. Alanso is still a world champion material , probably the best on a Sunday race day. Rather than debating if he retired the car deliberately or not one should debate if Honda should be in business at all in F1. What Honda is doing is along with ruining it’s own image it’s taking down McLaren and Alonso along with them . Yes Honda started off late …. but 2.5 years is still a long time … And if they are struggling … Atlest they should get some good outside help !!
        I think Fernando has shown enough and more patience over the past 2.5 years …. Just put across Hamilton or Sebastian in such a car for 1 year…. and see their reaction.
        By the way … That kiddo ..Max… is already crying in red bull pits just coz he is having some bad luck / failures in his car this year !!!

    2. “My name is Alonso, I’m a multi millionaire race driver with a hot girl friend… FML!”

      And it can’t be helping the cars weight distribution with that big a chip on his shoulder.

      In all seriousness, though Alonso is the perfect example that material trappings don’t bring happiness. It has to be crushing him to be so powerless. And for all the talk of other teams offers, realistically that isn’t Ferrari coming knocking back, I think he’d have to pay them. Red Bull have a drivers program that is if anything over-delivering. And Mercedes have a harmonious setup. Alonso is too big a variable to place in their operation unless Hamilton was leaving.

      Force India aren’t going to make a step up beyond 4th, so we’re talking Williams and Renault. Both of which have promise, but they’re works in progress, they aren’t winning a championship in the next 3 years even with Alonso.

      He’s stuck at McLaren hoping Honda come good on their potential. And there are worse ways to waste your career.

      1. And it can’t be helping the cars weight distribution with that big a chip on his shoulder.

        So you’re criticizing a world champion and a motorsport icon for having higher aspirations than driving around in an uncompetetive car just for the sake of driving it around?
        Don’t you have any aspirations in life yourself? Seems like you’re envious that some people demand from life and their professional careers more than just bland participation. This is a very sad attitude.

        It’s admirable that Alonso has been putting up with this for so long with dignity and pride. A situation that shows Formula 1 as a farce, not a sport.

        1. I’m with you 100%.

        2. @damon

          Perhaps me saying “In all seriousness” after that along with how absurd a statement I made didn’t make it clear enough I meant it in a light hearted fashion. I did also go on to empathise how crushing it must feel to be in his position.

          I’m not bitter or resentful of Alonso and the remarkable feats he’s achieved in his career. He’s an awesome driver and it breaks my heart as a fan to see his talent wasted. That doesn’t mean I can’t joke about it a little though.

          1. @philipgb
            Fair enough, mate ;) Your first sentence was very spiteful though.

            1. @damonsmedley

              Because despite how much of a shame the current situation is, for all his complaints as a racing driver, Alonso still has the 15th best life in a world of 7 billion people, it only warrants so much sympathy. Little comments from him like “anyway, it doesn’t change my life” are still slightly absurd when all things are in perspective, hence why I see him as folly for light hearted mockery.

              The tragedy of Alonso’s situation doesn’t stem from his means or his objective quality of life. It stems from the disconnect between his ambition and potential from the aspects outside his control limiting those factors.

    3. Healthy or unhealthy, would it have made any difference? No matter who the driver is or what his personality is…after making up 3 places at the start and losing all and more because the engine desperately lacks performance, embarrasing just about sums it up.

      1. And Ricciardo only finishing 3rd while doing a great race only because of a engine which is lacking power is just embarrasing.
        And Hulkenberg not winning the race only because a car and engine which isn’t on par with Mercedes is just embarrasing. I could go on but I think you get the point…

        1. @Rambler
          I don’t get the point…sounds like you are “rambling”, Rambler

        2. Ricciardo was probably expecting to finish after Mercs and Ferrari – Obviously he would not complain about P3 and Hulk got the best possible position behind faster 3 cars in the grid. May be both their post race comments would give a better idea.


          May be you can give more examples… may be we will get your point.

    4. McLaren should still move to Renault if they get the chance. Granted they have a lot of failures as well but the engine in the Renault car itself seems to be working OK.

      Whatever it is that RB are doing in addition to the engine seems to be counter productive especially to Max.

      As for Alonso, he has had the whole paddock hyping him up. Now he decides for the team, instead of vice-versa. McLaren would get rid of him if they can, but that will further amplify their failures on track.

      Between a rock and a hard place.

    5. I think the suggestion that Alonso would do this is completely ridiculous. He seems pretty genuine to me and he always seems to give 100%. To be honest I am surprised F1fanatic has even captioned the story in this way. It’s just another frustrating day for him which, when he knows he is a great driver, must be really difficult.

      1. I don’t think the accusation would be Alonso retiring out of apathy, I think the suggestions would be that they are preserving the power unit and gearbox.

        1. Ok, I am accusing him of the apathy one.

    6. He literally has nowhere to go. Williams seem a sidestep, Renault need a few years to develop and Force India probably can’t afford him. As Mercedes/Ferrari/Red Bull aren’t interested or have their own plans… the only real option is to stay at McHonda. I mean he could jump ship for Williams or Renault but knowing his luck that’ll be when Honda strike it lucky and Vandoorne or whoever they replace Alonso with will dance off with the title.

      It’ll be interesting if McLaren do ditch Honda as that effectively leaves them with an engine and no car. It’s a shame as I think a healthy, strong Honda is beneficial and good for the sport. It just seems crazy that they’re struggling this badly and I actually hope they don’t leave. F1 could do with more teams and manufacturers not less.

      1. It’s pathetic that Merc and Ferrari let Hamilton and Vettel choose their teammate thus eliminating competition within the team. And I don’t buy Hamilton didn’t have a say in it. He made it clear Alonso would be a bad choice.
        Too bad the “other” teams can’t band together and threaten to leave if the FIA doesn’t come up with a way to actually make the playing field more even.
        And they call this racing.

        1. When did he make it clear that Alonso would be a bad choice? Can you give me a source because I can’t remember that one. Thanks!

      2. He could Buy Force India…

    7. By their own (rare) admission they completely underestimated the tech with new PU. To them, from the outside, it looked complex but straightforward. They didn’t even admit that to themselves even after over a year of running so they are at least 2 years behind everyone else. This kind of performance @ Spa is really what they should have achieved in their first year so this is really appalling. I too had high hopes of a strong Honda but I’m not sure they’ll ever get it right. Difficult days ahead and I agree McLaren should now be seriously looking at alternatives as you can’t honestly say they have improved one bit in 2017, in fact they seem to have gone backwards…

      1. The problem is that there are no alternatives. From Mercedes, Ferrari, and Renault they will only get a customer package. Not one capable of beating the works team. There is a reason why only the top team for each manufacturer has been able to win races since 2014. The Mercedes PU is widely touted as superdominant but curiously it’s only average when bolted into the back of a Force India or a Williams. While the Mercedes team dominated the previous three seasons, in none of these the runner-up in the WCC was a Mercedes powered team. The only thing McLaren could do is to entice another PU supplier into the sport or start making their own, but that means returning to square one. So they are really condemned to staying with Honda.

        1. @fvh

          +1

          Exactly what you said

    8. Fernando was pretty up beat in his interview after the race. I think the mood music is that he wants to stay at McLaren and also that the team and him want the issue to be sorted in September. So what can change? The engine supplier of course. Does this mean they are going with Renault in 2018?

      1. He’s in a touch spot. It’s either a Honda or Renault engine at McLaren… neither is very enticing. The prospect of Renault becoming a race winner is still an unknown. To be honest, I just can’t see him going through another season of Honda power.. and if McLaren stick with Honda for next season, I’m pretty sure he’ll leave for Renault but be battling in midfield again.

    9. A bad day for Honda in general, engine problems(as usual) with F1 car and blown engine for motoGP title contender. Seems like its time for Honda engineers to commit harakiri in public square in Tokyo.

    10. I dont know why sky always assumes Alonso retires a healthy car. The car wasn’t sounding too fine and he was kind of limping to the pit.

    11. I’d love to see him in IndyCar next year, but it appears he’s going to stay in F1 for more of this wherever he lands.

      1. A reporter in his first interview after the race asked him:
        “Fernando, you are a double world champion and you’ve been overtaken as if you drove a GP2 car. How long will you be able to put up with this?”
        Nando’s reply was: “8 more races”.

    12. Marian Gri (@)
      27th August 2017, 18:31

      I don’t believe he retired a healthy car. Yeah, he has the guts to do it, but not this time. Anyway, in my opinion he better get a Renault seat, he’ll retain the factory engine “option”, the engine is better than Honda anyway, plus the RS17 as a whole package seems to have the potential of being the 4th fastest car on the grid as Hulk proved multiple times this season. Had ALO been in PAL car, pretty sure Renault would have been fighting with FI for 4th place in the WCC. Thing is if Renault wants him anymore and will pay him that kind of money he’ll be asking from them.

    13. Alonso, it is shameful your behavior against the team, always has been. Always the car is the one that has some problem and you have run the best race of your life, even if you get penultimate.
      You drive a car very well, but you do not deserve to drive a formula 1 car.
      After your embarrassing attitude making crashing against the wall to your teammate in Singapore 2008, FIA should have expelled you. You’re a bad sportsman, even if you drive a car well.

      1. Basically you are wrong. Just wrong. If McLaren thought he was so bad they just would not have had him back and they would not be paying him €40 million.

        1. He is only back because it was part of the free engine contract with Honda. And Honda pays his salary.
          Essentially Alonso is the highest pay driver on the field.

          But not for long. Honda won’t pick up his salary tab next season.

          1. Honda does not pay Alonso’s salary, that is a myth.

    14. Not sure if the driver was in a healthy frame of mind to be honest

    15. lol. So he gets warnings for cutting turn 4. His only protection for not getting passed is his team mate who is ordered to stay behind and protect him…and then he gets passed like a punk by Palmer and he fakes an engine failure.
      Just retire

    16. There was a power unit problem. Not enough power.

      1. Hasegawa doesn’t think so.

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