McLaren-Honda Formula One Team Hopes Fernando Alonso Won't Quit

McLaren's Zak Brown wants Fernando Alonso on the team for five more years. The real question is: does Alonso want to stay?

F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain - Practice
Mark Thompson—Getty Images

Tensions are ever higher at McLaren-Honda after the inaugural round of the 2017 Formula One season, at Australia, with the McLaren cars finishing in 13th and 18th place. The McHonda partnership's promises are being made more conservatively as the years roll on, with podium finishes targeted in 2015, then points finishes in 2016, and merely finishing races as the target for the early part of 2017. Unsurprisingly, Fernando Alonso is tired of spending his twilight years in the sport driving for a team that isn't living up to its promises.

McLaren are short on temper with Honda, too. Rumors are swirling about the team divorcing from Honda sometime in-season if significant improvements are not made—and soon. Former Red Bull F1 driver Mark Webber even suggested that Alonso may too part ways with the team during the season if the situation does not improve. As if the British team's problems were not bad enough, their second driver, Stoffel Vandoorne, stated, "in terms of performance, we are the last. We are [the] tenth [team]."

Amidst all the stressors pulling at McLaren, team chief Zak Brown is confident that Alonso will stay with McLaren for the foreseeable future if the situation shows even signs of improvement. "He has five years ahead of him if he wants it. I’m very keen for him to stay and I think he will if we give him a car," Brown said. Alonso is already at the approximate retirement threshold for Formula One drivers, which is 35 years of age. Few drivers have continued onward in the sport after that age, with Michael Schumacher being a significant exception, though he was walloped with ease by his teammate, Nico Rosberg. It is not as if Alonso would retire from motorsport as a whole if he were to bail out of the foundering McLaren team, as he has hinted at his intent to join Porsche's Blancpain WEC team.

McLaren expects to see a performance upgrade at both of the next two races, Bahrain and China, but if these new parts don't amount to enough, we may see Alonso putting on a proverbial parachute before shooting a glare Honda's way, then leaping into Porsche's open arms.