Alonso hints at McLaren stay with new engine deal imminent
SINGAPORE — Fernando Alonso could end up staying at McLaren.
Amid growing speculation that McLaren will split with Honda and work with Renault as its engine supplier next year, the twotime Formula One champion hinted he is prepared to continue with the team for another year.
“After they take a decision, I will take mine,” the Spanish driver said Thursday at the Singapore Grand Prix. “I want to stay loyal to them and not make any decisions without them first making their decisions.”
McLaren is in its third troublesome year with Honda and there has been scant sign of any improvement. Alonso has grown increasingly agitated at Honda’s lack of reliability, completing only three races this season with a best finish of sixth.
Alonso has scored 10 points so far, while McLaren teammate Stoffel Vandoorne has managed only one.
Renault has a far more reliable engine than Honda, with Nico Hulkenberg consistently in the points for Renault and completing 10 of 13 races. With Alonso behind the wheel, and using a Renault engine, McLaren could expect a significant performance boost next year.
Despite being one of the oldest drivers on the grid, the 36-year-old Spaniard is still widely considered to be one of the best. He has done well in trying circumstances with McLaren and remains ambitious.
“If I remain in F1 it is because I believe I can win next year,” said Alonso, whose last of 32 F1 wins was at the Spanish GP in 2013 when driving for Ferrari. “I will not be around in any series to be fighting for top 10.”
With Alonso likely staying at McLaren, Renault is expected to sign Spanish driver Carlos Sainz Jr. from Toro Rosso as a replacement for British driver Jolyon Palmer, who has failed to score a point this season.
Palmer expects to see out the season, at least, amid reports he could be replaced imminently.
“I’ve got seven more races this year,” Palmer said. “I’ll be racing until Abu Dhabi.”
Official engine changes are expected to be announced on Friday. Representatives of Renault, McLaren, Honda and Red Bull are all scheduled to appear at a news conference after practice ends in Singapore.
Toro Rosso, a feeder team to Red Bull, is set to split with Renault next year and switch to Honda engines until 2020.