Ferrari, Red Bull and Mercedes do not want him, with Fernando Alonso’s ambitions to join a winning Formula 1 team scuppered for 2018 he is now focusing on his next best option: a drive with Williams.
Reports in Germany (including Auto Motor und Sport, Auto Bild and other independent sources in the paddock) claim a contract for Alonso to race for Williams in 2018 is almost a done deal – only the signatures are missing.
Discussions reportedly having been ongoing since before the summer break. The Spaniard believes in the potential and future of Williams with former Mercedes technical chief Paddy Lowe at the helm.
Although Williams have dropped down the pecking order this season, they are already hard at work on their 2018 car which will correct the fundamental design flaws of the current FW38. The team’s engineers are working to reposition the entire rear axle and the Mercedes transmission.
This would fall in line with Force India’s solution for the Mercedes engine bolted to the VJM10, which has resulted in their car being a better piece of kit than the Williams this season.
The fact that the team has the ability to be the best of the non-works teams seems more than what McLaren – with Honda power – can offer Alonso who is containing what must be massive frustration for the plight he has been in for the past three years.
However the Spanish double F1 World Champion won’t come cheap, but this problem is sorted by the fact that Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll is prepared to foot the bill of whatever salary the 36 year old will require to don a Williams race suit.
Stroll senior has pumped an estimated €40-million into Williams to further his son’s F1 career and digging out even more cash will hardly dent his considerable wallet.
Should this happen, it would provide Lance Stroll the best tutor any young driver could wish for, while ensuring that the teenager benefits from Alonso’s car development experience and technical expertise.
For Alonso it gives him access to Mercedes power which has dominated the sport for over three years, while providing his ambitions to claim a third world title a far more realistic chance than what McLaren and Honda can offer for the foreseeable future.
This year Felipe Massa only continued with the Grove outfit because Valterri Bottas was given the Mercedes seat vacated by retiring Nico Rosberg. It is clear the Brazilian veteran is no longer (was he ever?) a driver that can galvanise a team, and seems rather more intent on extending his F1 career as long as possible.
Alonso provides a much more attractive and effective alternative for Williams who have shown their intent to rebuild the team into a serious force again, this time under Lowe’s watch.
After all Williams is the third most successful team in Formula 1 history – 114 grand prix victories, nine constructors’ and seven drivers’ world championships is testament to their fine pedigree.
For McLaren it will be a major blow to lose Alonso who is a headline grabber and one of this era’s great drivers. But history will show that Woking has not been a happy place for the Spaniard.
Behind-the-scenes they are already preparing for his departure as they fast-track their young protege Lando Norris. A team insider revealed, “McLaren lets him drive everything that is possible, so he gets miles.”
At the recent Young Drivers Test in Hungary, the 17 year old Briton shone with great times and composure in the McLaren.
Big Question: Is Fernando to Williams a good move for him?