McLaren confirmed today that Fernando Alonso will be staying with the Formula One team for next year alongside Stoffel Vandoorne, F1 announced. Thankfully, since McLaren will run Renault power units next year, they might actually have a competitive car.
Alonso was a huge chunk of the reason behind the massive game of musical chairs in F1 wherein Toro Rosso and McLaren switched power units. Honda’s power units have been miserably unreliable and off-pace, and no one at McLaren has been happy over the past few years running them.
Alonso was unlikely to stay for a fourth successive year with McLaren if McLaren’s car was going to suck another year. His highest finish in a Honda-powered McLaren has been fifth place, and that was unacceptable for a two-time world champion who’s widely considered one of the best talents on the grid.
So, McLaren swapped for Renault power, which is hopefully a bit better. Toro Rosso loaned talented young driver Carlos Sainz Jr. to Renault’s works team in order to be released from their engine supply contract early.
Alonso confirmed in today’s press conference that “it’s not a one-year contract.” While he couldn’t speak on any particulars, the contract is believed to be for one year with an option to extend, per the BBC. Alonso wants a car that will be competitive, and McLaren clearly wants him to stay.
However, this means that if you wanted to see him make another run at the Indianapolis 500, you’ll have to wait. His focus will be on F1 next year since the car is expected to be decent.
Thankfully, Alonso didn’t rule out another run at the Indianapolis 500 or a run at the 24 Hours of Le Mans—the two other races he needs to complete the Triple Crown of Motorsport—even though he did admit it’s too early too tell when he might do so. However, since the Indy 500 falls on Monaco weekend, he says Indy will have to wait until at least 2019 for that one.