Alonso insists his future depends on where F1 is headed
With his current contract at McLaren expiring at the end of 2018, Fernando Alonso is facing a big decision about his motor racing future this year.
But even as the two-time world champion prepares to start his first Le Mans 24 Hours race from pole position this weekend, he insists that the deciding factor will be his feelings about the future of Formula 1 itself.
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“The biggest thing for me is the direction that Formula 1 goes,” he said on Thursday. “It’s how important the driver input becomes, and which direction the sport wants to take.
“It’s a constructors’ world championship, it’s not a drivers’ world championship.
“I have nothing against it,” he added. “I’ve been here 18 years because I love Formula 1. And I continue here because I enjoy this category.”
Even so, it’s been a major frustration for Alonso that he’s not had a car capable of winning races since he left Ferrari and joined McLaren in 2015.
“The last championship car I had was 2007,” he sighed. “All the rest has been always quite far off from the performance at the top, or the winning team that season.”
But he’s got used to that situation, and says that McLaren’s current form won’t be the deciding factor as to whether he stays with the team and in F1 – for another season.
“I don’t think too much in how competitive you will be next year because it’s impossible to predict. It’s just about the sport.”
- Alonso’s #8 Toyota seals Le Mans pole
Even if he wins Le Mans this weekend with Toyota team mates Kazuki Nakajima and Sebastien Buemi, Alonso says it “probably won’t” impact his decision about 2019.
“Obviously I didn’t think too much yet,” he added.
If he does win this weekend then along with his wins in Monaco in 2001 and 2002, he would have two of the three elements of motorsport’s Triple Crown. In that case a return to Indianapolis for a second attempt at the Indy 500 could be o the cards.
And not only Alonso – McLaren is also reported to be exploring plans to set up a full-time IndyCar team. It shows how much in sync Alonso is with CEO Zak Brown, who also runs the United Autosports LMP2 team.
“You have to find the right boss,” Alonso told AS newspaper last week. “The only problem is that in F1 your boss doesn’t allow you to [race in other championships.]
“[Zak] is a driver inside, and understands the needs of a driver,” he added. “He then translates his vision to McLaren, which is not just a Formula 1 team but a wider part of motor sport.”
When it comes down to it, Alonso’s relationship with Brown may yet be the single biggest hope that McLaren have of retaining the driver’s services in 2019.
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