Announced via a rather clever little video in which the McLaren team attempted to learn Spanish, it has been announced that two-times Formula One World Champion, Fernando Alonso, would continue his journey at McLaren, signing an extension to his contract that will keep him at the Woking based squad for 2018.
Having spent the past three years pootling around Formula One Circuits in what he even described as a ‘GP2 engine’, the split from Honda and the future aspirational glory of new engine partner Renault, are seen to be the key catalyst for the signing.
Well that and the fact that apart from leaving the series altogether – where else could he go?
“It’s fantastic to be able to continue my relationship with everybody at McLaren,” said Alonso.” It was always where my heart was telling me to stay, and I really feel at home here. This is a fantastic team, full of incredible people, with a warmth and friendliness that I’ve never experienced elsewhere in Formula 1. I’m incredibly happy to be racing here” said Alonso.
“Just as important, McLaren has the technical resource and financial strength to be able to very quickly win races and world championships in F1. Although the last few years have not been easy, we have never forgotten how to win, and I believe we can achieve that again soon.
“The last three years have given us the momentum to plan and build for the future, and I’m looking forward to that journey.
“I’m excited for our future together – and I’m already working hard to make it a success.”
It’s clear to all and sundry that Alonso wants to win another championship. Although, I think it’s fair to say, he’d just be happy with a win at this point of his career. However, I’d suggest that the 36 year old Spaniard will be hard pressed to be winning races next year with McLaren having to pay for it’s engines – and Alonso too now that Honda are leaving – meaning money will need to be diverted from the R&D budget to cover these costs.
The Renault PU is no slouch – it’s powered Red Bull to two wins this year and another ten podiums along the way – however when you consider the likes of Mercedes, Ferrari and the aforementioned Red Bull, the new McLaren-Renault may end up fighting in the mid pack, joining the likes of Williams, Force India – and Renault itself. The development race is only going to get faster next year.
Alonso had a crack at the Indy 500 this year – which also ended in irony as the Honda engine popped the back – however it is understood that the same offer is not available in 2018. What is available however, is the opportunity to race at Le Mans, which doesn’t clash with F1 in 2018.
I’m pleased to see Alonso staying in F1 in 2018. He’s one of the finest racers there is and a real character to boot. I just hope we’re applauding his race results next year, rather than his trackside exploits beside an expired McLaren.