Fernando Alonso sets McLaren deadline to prove they are worth his time
Spaniard reiterates quit threats to his team amid another disappointing season and also suggests he could leave Formula One altogether
Fernando Alonso repeated his threat to quit not only McLaren-Honda, but also Formula One, when he faced reporters ahead of this weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix.
The two-time world champion, who revelled in the freedom he experienced at the Indianapolis 500 two weeks ago, when he retired while running seventh, cited two possible reasons for making an exit after 16 years.
The Spaniard said that if McLaren were not able to win by September, he would leave the team and added that if the sport increased its race calendar to 25 or more he would quit.
“We have to win,” he said. “If we are winning before September, when I will make a decision, I will stay.
“I joined this project to win the title. If you are not in a competitive position, maybe you change project.
“A third world championship is my biggest priority. That’s what I came to McLaren to win – and now after three years we are not winning. If we don’t win, I will jump in any car I can in any category.
“I’m not afraid of the future. If I can’t succeed here, I will go and I will race in any series.”
— Formula 1 (@F1) June 8, 2017
Alonso has made previous and similar threats about his future with the team, but this one follows a warning to engine suppliers Honda from McLaren team chief Zak Brown that they are close to the end of their patience with the Japanese company.
“We’re near our limit,” Brown said. “So far, it hasn’t worked ... A year in Formula One is an eternity. Three years is a decade – and you just can’t go on forever.”
Brown spoke after it was revealed that Honda had failed to produce expected updates for their engines for this weekend’s race, the seventh of the season following a miserably disappointing start to the year.
Alonso, who praised the open and happy atmosphere he found at Indianapolis, confirmed also that he would quit F1 if the calendar is to be enlarged to 25 races from 20.
“When I started it was with 16 races with some testing,” he said. “Now it is 20-21, with preparation, sponsors, testing and more so and if it is 25, it will be too many for me.
“I will decide what I am doing after the summer, in September or October, but I want to keep some quality in my life. I think things have to change.”
Widely regarded as one of the most talented drivers of his generation, Alonso was expected to succeed Germany’s seven-time champion Michael Schumacher as the most dominant racer of the past decade.
But his career moves saw him go from a triumphant Renault to a bleak and unhappy season at McLaren-Mercedes in 2007 and then back to Renault before he moved to Ferrari and McLaren-Honda without success.
He was champion in 2005 and 2006, but has won only six races in the last six seasons before this, and is without a victory since the 2013 Spanish Grand Prix.
McLaren-Honda have failed to score a point this year.