So what IS going on? McLaren and Alonso. Certainly what they have lacked in performance on track they have out performed almost every other team in terms of column inches and debates.
No doubt Alonso has matured and developed into an almost perfect “wing man” to have on your team’s side. He has managed to slam (also publically) the power unit but without really upsetting his team. From a PR perspective he has been gold in 2017.
Crowd surfing, sunbathing, replacing camera men, even developing a signature gesture when he climbs out of his dead cars… but where is it all heading?
Nearly all McLaren fans understandably keen and eager to see him stay with the team for next year but I have heard a number of quotes that follow the lines of “well you can’t blame him, he has been more than fair with us”
The team want to keep him.
These last couple of years have not been a complete loss for the team. They will have used the many hours of racing (ahem!) as “track testing” whilst the other cars have been fighting for points to develop an excellent chassis for Fernando, who seems very happy with it.
In regard to the car in the Canadian GP this weekend he said the car felt “very, very competitive”.
He went on to say:
“But this year’s car, as I said in the winter, I felt it’s very good for my driving style as well. “I’m able to drive the car was I was doing 10 years ago.
“I’m able to push the car to the limits in every qualifying and race this year.
“In that part I’m very happy, and I’m enjoying the laps.
“Obviously when you cross the line you are missing a couple of km/h on the straight, but the rest of the lap is quite fun to drive.”
So it seems quite clear, Alonso is happy with the car, believes it is a competitive Chassis, indeed in the “top three in F1”. It would seem all blame lies in Alonso’s head with the the Honda power
“We know our weakness, we know our deficit in terms of power,” Alonso said
He has even been quoted since his retirement in the closing laps of the GP (loss of oil pressure due to mechanical failure) that the lack of speed the Honda had was “dangerous” on the straights”
Alonso has made it no secret in the last few days that his main priority for 2018 is a 3rd World Championship, and that he is open to offers for teams that can give him a car to achieve it.
Perhaps this has been the push behind Zac Brown’s recent change of tack. Zac and the McLaren team have for a couple of years been ultra supportive (and defensive) of the McLaren-Honda relationship, this has changed in the last few days. It could be that Zac and Eric have simply had enough of playing the corporate politics game, or it could just be that they are running out of carrots to dangle in front of Alonso and this is their last ditch attempt appease Fernando when they cant seem to give him a car that can finish a race let, alone hunt down that elusive 1st contructors point in 2017.
So probably they will now be looking to Mercedes for engine supply for 2018, and to have that agreed before Ferdy’s imposed 90 day / Summer break deadline to give him a winning car. Question is will this be enough and soon enough to retain Alonso
Mixed Messages from Ferdy:
Despite Alonso’s firm position of what he expects and needs to next year there has been very little talk about who he might be looking to to deliver, could it be Alonso has already has an agreement in place? Has is seat been reserved?
Asked this week by Ralf Bach of Sport Bild “..would it help you to learn for your decision for next year that you maybe get the same engine next year as Lewis has this year?”
The Spaniard replied: “I think it doesn’t make any change to my decision”
Hmmm. sounds like someone’s made his mind up already…
Ferdy predictions for 2018 below please, winner get a Christmas card.