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Where could Alonso end up in 2018?

Since his announcement that Fernando Alonso will race in the Indy 500 this season, Fernando Alonso’s future has been in the spotlight of Formula 1 even more than before. However, despite his ambitions clearly shifting towards wishing to win the “triple crown” of motorsport, Alonso has stated in the past that his 3rd Formula 1 world championship is the true goal.

Often cited by many in the paddock as being the single the best driver of his generation, Fernando would be deserving of both accolades, but it is no secret that the current McLaren-Honda team is a mess, a mess that shows little sign of being competitive any time soon. So whilst Fernando may be looking to pastures new, let’s assess his options for the remaining years of his F1 career and where he might find his elusive 3rd championship.

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Fernando has a lot of thinking to do: this is his most important decision yet in F1 and his time is running out.

Mercedes? 

This is clearly Fernando’s preferred option having spoken to them about their vacancy for the 2017 season. He also has not had a chance to burn bridges there in the past, which many in the paddock argue is a hallmark of his career. However, Lewis Hamilton has stated that Alonso joining him for 2018 is just

However, Lewis Hamilton has stated that Alonso joining him for 2018 is just “not going to happen”. Whether or not Hamilton’s refusal to share the team comes from fear, which would be understandable given that Fernando is one of only three drivers ever to match Hamilton, is irrelevant. This one seems a no go unless Hamilton for some mystical reason vacated the team.

Ferrari? 

A return to the Scuderia perhaps might prove a more lucrative possibility for Fernando. The team and he enjoyed a successful spell together from 2010 to 2014, nearly winning the title twice. But again, there are issues here as Ferrari throughout their history are infamous for running a strict ‘number 1 driver’ policy and Sebastian Vettel is the current immovable incumbent of that role and will doubtless be renewed beyond his contract end this season. Furthermore, the German was the ‘number 1’ they chose to

Furthermore, the German was the ‘number 1’ they chose to replace Fernando in the first place so there is no reason to assume they would consider swapping back. Yet, if Kimi Raikkonen should choose to retire there would be a free seat at Ferrari, but even before a lot of stiff competition from the likes of Sergio Perez and Romain Grosjean, I doubt that Fernando would settle for anything less than number one status in his quest to reach the elusive 3rd title.

Williams? 

It is fairly accepted in the paddock that the Williams team are far from winning races, having seemingly gone backwards since two consecutive 3rd place finishes in 2014 and 2015. Yet the team is still a historic fixture in Formula 1, as well as consistently running high in the points so far this season with Felipe Massa.

Lance Stroll is likely to be contracted further due to the money he brings to the team, but should Massa again retire at the end of this season then Williams will have a free slot. Even though their prospects might not be the highest, Fernando could do a lot worse than join them.

Furthermore, Williams would highly benefit from the publicity that signing Fernando would bring: he would also obviously bring a huge amount of talent and allow them to keep their Martini sponsoring which requires one of their drivers to be over the age of 25.

Lance Stroll is likely to be contracted further due to the money he brings to the team, but should Massa again retire at the end of this season then Williams will have a free slot. Even though their prospects might not be the highest, Fernando could do a lot worse than join them. Furthermore, Williams would highly benefit from the publicity that signing Fernando would bring: he would also obviously bring a huge amount of talent and allow them to keep their Martini sponsoring which requires one of their drivers to be over the age of 25.

Furthermore, Williams would highly benefit from the publicity that signing Fernando would bring: he would also obviously bring a huge amount of talent and allow them to keep their Martini sponsoring which requires one of their drivers to be over the age of 25.

Renault? 

Fernando might want to make another return to where it all started for him: the Renault team have rejoined the sport last season and are looking to forge ahead and be ambitious over the next few years. As a wannabe competitive factory team to whom he has ties, this could well be a serious option for Alonso: even if they seem off the pace currently they are certainly showing more promise than McLaren. Questions are also being drawn over Jolyon Palmer almost every weekend, so that seat could be up for grabs: indeed rumours that

Questions are also being drawn over Jolyon Palmer almost every weekend, so that seat could be up for grabs: indeed rumours that Alonso has spoken to Renault for 2018 are already spreading through the paddock. However, Nico Hulkenberg the French team’s new ‘number 1’ driver would have to be convinced that having Alonso would benefit his own interests. Additionally, as Abiteboul remarked, Renault fully understands they won’t compete for titles quickly and so are more concerned with having

Additionally, as Abiteboul remarked, Renault fully understands they won’t compete for titles quickly and so are more concerned with having “a final line-up that will be the right one for the future” and Alonso may not fit into that category anymore.

McLaren? 

The only other team option for Alonso would be to wait it out. This would require hoping against all hopes that McLaren force Honda into competitiveness, or that they change engine manufacturers to another outfit, one which could instantly provide them with the speed and reliability they need to win races again. This is the riskiest option at this point and the one that should be least attractive to Fernando: Honda have promised time and time again to sort the mess out and it’s been 3 terrible years. But even if they changed engine supplier,

This is the riskiest option at this point and the one that should be least attractive to Fernando. Honda have promised time and time again to sort the mess out and it’s been 3 terrible years. But even if they changed engine supplier, as has been reported might happen, it is logical to suggest that a whole lot of work and time would have to happen before the team would even threaten to win a championship. Could Fernando even stomach this team any longer?

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It seems highly unlikely that McLaren will retain Alonso for 2018: his patience already has clearly snapped with the Woking team’s underperformance with Honda.

Retirement? By bowing out, he would basically be free to pursue his other career goals away from F1 and have fun by winning races elsewhere. I suppose the real question is whether he believes there is a seat out there for him which can provide him with success in the short term; as whilst not old at the age of 35 he is no spring chicken. Perhaps, in truth, leaving the paddock now would suit Alonso better.

Whilst he is still the best in the business and also a legendary ‘would be 5 times champion’ for all but a few points here and there in 2007, 2010 and 2012, the sport is leaving him behind. The simple fact is that all competitive ‘number 1’ driver seats are seemingly locked out for the foreseeable future unless a drastic move such as

Perhaps, in truth, leaving the paddock now would suit Alonso better. Whilst he is still the best in the business and also a legendary ‘would be 5 times champion’ for all but a few points here and there in 2007, 2010 and 2012, the sport is leaving him behind. The simple fact is that all competitive ‘number 1’ driver seats are seemingly locked out for the foreseeable future unless a drastic move such as

The simple fact is that all competitive ‘number 1’ driver seats are seemingly locked out for the foreseeable future unless a drastic move such as Vettel to Mercedes happens. The bottom line is this: time runs on and waits for no man, not even a Spanish Samurai who fights to the bitter end.

Written by James Crellin: author of the Podium Posts blog. This post was lifted from a review of Alonso’s whole career so far.

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Features, Formula 1

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