McLaren Chief Says ‘We’ll Do Everything’ to Keep Alonso
Fernando Alonso has threatened to leave if McLaren doesn’t have things sorted by season’s end.
Fernando Alonso hasn't shied away from voicing his opinion on the McLaren-Honda engine saga. The former world champion has made his frustration clear after not capturing a podium with the team since joining in 2014, and with a string of DNFs this season, things are only getting worse. McLaren has taken note, but somewhat steered away from the controversy saying there is "zero tension" with 'Nando, but as brand COO Jonathan Neale told Motorsport, the team is anxious to keep the Spaniard on board past 2017.
Neale mentioned that focus will soon be shifting to next year's car in order for Alonso and his teammate Stoffel Vandoorne to assess the situation come 2018.
"I'm encouraged about McLaren's future," he said. "A lot has happened over the last 12 months. We're ready to take that next step for McLaren. Our thoughts are starting to turn to next year's car and what that is going to look like." He continued, "Of course the engine stuff is in that mix. We need to land all of that in and before the September timescale so our drivers know who we are going to be and what their plans are going to be."
Following this, Neale said that McLaren has been in active talks with Honda after both Ferrari and Mercedes have quietly shut down chances of supplying the team with engines for next year.
"No firm decisions have been made. We're in lots of dialogue with Honda. We're keeping the FIA and FOM close to what is going on. We are trying to do the right thing for F1 but also try to do the right thing for McLaren."
As for Alonso, Neale announced that he'd do anything in his power to keep him on with the Woking crew.
"If I put my personal colours to the mast, I'd love to have Fernando in this team. I know we'll do everything we can to keep him in this team but I recognize he will have choices - nothing is a given. I think he's a great guy, he's one of the best drivers I have ever worked with and I'd love to have him for longer."
Alonso stated earlier in the season that the team has until October to figure out a fix and get him a better car, or else he could be packing his bags -- whether that be to another F1 team or to IndyCar.