Per Formula One correspondent Nick Daman on Radio Le Mans' Midweek Motorsport show, the date to watch for Fernando Alonso's team decision is December 1. That announcement is likely to be a move to the McLaren Honda team.
At approximately one hour and thirty-seven minutes in on season 9, episode 44, they start to discuss McLaren's sticky situation of too many (likely) drivers for only two spots. They have Alonso, who has either signed a contract at McLaren or will in the near future. They also have Jenson Button, whose contract expires this year and hasn't signed a new one. Button will likely end up in the WEC if he doesn't get signed at Porsche. McLaren's much younger driver Kevin Magnussen hasn't been nailed down, either.
Contractual obligations could have been holding up the announcements at Ferrari. While it's understood that Alonso's leaving is a mutual break-up, if Ferrari announces Sebastian Vettel as their driver too soon, then it's understood that Ferrari is letting Alonso out of his contract and they will owe Alonso a lot of money (per the contract) for releasing him early. If Alonso announces too soon that he's at another team, then it's on him for breaking the contract, and he'll be out a bunch of money instead of the team. Fun times!
Ferrari just anounced this morning that Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Räikkönen will be their two drivers:
So, Alonso's announcement for 2015 should come very, very soon.
Supposedly, this waiting game for Alonso's announcement ends on December 1st, though, so hold onto your butts: the most likely scenario we pointed out last month will probably come to pass.
But what about the Spygate shenanigans in 2007? Does this move make any sense? Didn't Alonso threaten to snitch on McLaren Team Principal Ron Dennis' dirty email chains at the Hungarian Grand Prix?
It'll be just like the bad old times, man!
Spygate stripped McLaren of their Constructors' Championship points and fined them $100 million for obtaining key technical information about Ferrari's F1 car. Drivers Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso were still permitted to compete for the Drivers' Championship for cooperating with the investigation.
The bad blood between both McLaren and Alonso as well as the intense rivalry between Hamilton and Alonso was enough to push Alonso to sign with Renault in 2008.
In remarks made to Sky Sports, Ron Dennis claims that the entire debacle is behind him, and that it wouldn't be an impediment to Alonso returning to McLaren:
Fernando wasn't the trigger. He was just a part-player. It was the action of other individuals. The emails between Fernando and Pedro de la Rosa were pretty irrelevant.
I moved on years ago. There's no impediment for Lewis Hamilton coming back. There's no impediment for Fernando Alonso coming back. And there's no impediment for Kevin [Magnussen] and Jenson [Button] staying.
Uh-huh, sure. No impediments like contracts that need renewing, or perhaps the fact that Button's getting up in age for an F1 driver.
Many key components on the existing V6 turbo Formula One engines are frozen from change as part of an engine freeze meant to save competitors money as the new engine regulations roll out over the next few years. (That part clearly isn't working.)
Honda, however, enters 2015 with a clean slate since they are entering an entirely new design, allowing them to pick components that work and are most likely to be competitive against the dominant Mercedes engines. This is why Alonso would be drawn back to a team he left under the most sour of terms: McLaren will be the only team running the new Honda engines.
Axis even claims that Alonso to Honda has already happened:
Alonso will not sign with Mclaren because, it's been said, he signed with Honda for a hefty 35 million Euro a season ($44M). It also means that, theoretically, Alonso would be free to move to any other future Honda powered team should it prove more competitive. Alonso would return to Mclaren not as a Mclaren employee.
That's one more interesting theory to toss into the ring.
Either way, we'll know for sure who signed who where on Alonso's contract on or before December 1.
I'm so sure he's heading to McLaren that I'm calling it now. Alonso Watch 2014 is over (unless it's not). Alonso to McLaren, done.
Photo credits: Getty Images