Fernando Alonso issues final ultimatum to McLaren

Fernando Alonso has reportedly issued his final ultimatum to McLaren and Honda, stating that its "Honda or me" for the 2018 season.

27th August 2017, Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium; Belgium Grand Prix, Race Day; Fernando ALONSO from Spain of Team McLaren-Honda, McLaren MCL32 Honda RA617H Hybrid during the Belgian GP.

Fernando Alonso has issued a final ultimatum to McLaren according to Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport, stating that it’s either “Honda or me” for next season.

Fernando Alonso issues final ultimatum to McLaren

Alonso left Ferrari to join McLaren in 2015 when the Woking-based team ditched Mercedes power to renew its once historic engine partnership with Honda that saw the team dominate F1 in the 1980s and early 90s. After three uncompetitve years with the team which has seen the Spaniard fail to finish any higher than fifth place in 48 appearances, it appears that his patience has finally ended.

Last weekend, Formula 1 returned from its summer break and Alonso had an especially difficult Belgian Grand Prix. This started when he missed out on a Q3 appearance in qualifying, and despite having a strong race start which saw him move into seventh by the end of the first tour of the circuit, dropped through the field and out of the points. The Spaniard retired with a supposed engine issue in the second half, however, it has been suggested that he may have faked a power unit failure to retire.

While Eric Boullier defended Alonso by saying “He had a funny feeling with the car,” Yusuke Hasegawa contrasted the words of the pair: “We could not find anything wrong in the data,” showing the complexity of the situation at McLaren-Honda.

Due to the consistent disappointment of Honda, throughout 2017 there have been suggestions that McLaren could divorce its Japanese engine supplier for 2018. As a ten year deal was signed by McLaren and Honda, a divorce would be a clear breach in contract, although it is understood that there would be no consequences. If McLaren however, pushes Honda to quit F1, the British team would receive millions of pounds in compensation.

Red Bull Racing’s Dr Helmut Marko expressed his wonder at the situation: “In what world do they live?” he asked. “If you get rid of someone, you don’t also get money.”

With McLaren waiting for Honda to quit F1 and Honda waiting to be divorced by McLaren, it appears to be a complete stalemate situation in the camp.

At the heart of this situation, Fernando Alonso has been quite clear as to what he believes should happen at his team: “There has to be a change. I think there are answers out there but we have to find them — and they won’t come from looking at the sky,” he told Spain’s El Mundo Deportivo. “We have to sit down and work and hope to find the best solution for next year.”

One popular rumour at the moment is that Alonso will be leaving McLaren to join Williams for next season, where he will replace his old team mate at Ferrari, Felipe Massa, although Eric Boullier believes that McLaren can be faster than the team: “With a Mercedes engine, we would be two seconds faster than Williams.”

This appears to be the best alternative to McLaren he has for 2018, with Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull set to retain their current driver lineups for next season. Another option for Alonso is rejoining Renault where he won his two world championships, although he faces stiff opposition for the seat with one of the candidates being his close friend, Robert Kubica.

It is expected that Alonso will make a decision on his future sometime in September, and whether he stays at McLaren or joins another team on the grid remains unknown. It has also been suggested that he could race in North America next year in IndyCar after driving for Andretti Autosport at this season’s Indianapolis 500.
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