In the aftermath of the headline grabbing news that McLaren have ditched Honda in favour of Renault, starting next season, the Woking team chief Zak Brown is confident that Fernando Alonso will race for the team beyond 2017.
Speaking to Sky F1, Brown said, “We’re very confident we’ll have Fernando Alonso in our car next season and the same driver line-up that we have now.”
“Fernando is a very important asset, he’s very happy with the decision, we’re happy with him in the car, he’s happy being in the car and I think we’ll have a good ending to this story.”
Some pundits believe that Alonso put pressure on McLaren to terminate the Honda deal, but Brown denied that this was the case, “When you make a decision like this you have to do what’s best for the team, you can’t let the driver dictate what engine you have.”
Questions have been asked regarding the change to Renault, if the move to customer team status is a wise one and how competitive the French manufacturer will be considering the fact that their current power unit is down on Ferrari and Mercedes, while reliability has been a problem.
Brown insisted, “Ferrari weren’t as competitive as Mercedes 12-24 months ago, but now they look as competitive. Renault is a great company and I think it’s premature to call them the third-best engine next year.”
“You have to look forwards in motor racing. We’re disappointed it hasn’t worked out as [Honda] are a great company. We had a great history but we gave it a good shot for three years and now we look forward,” added Brown.
Meanwhile, immediately after qualifying eighth for the Singapore Grand Prix, Alonso said of his future, “After Singapore I will try to know a little bit more about the project, about the Renault engine and the expectations for next year.”
“Right now I don’t know anything. Once I have considered that I will make my decision,” added Alonso who won his two Formula 1 world championship titles (in 2005 and 2006) with Renault.
Big Questions: Does McLaren need Fernando? Does Fernando need McLaren?