Fernando Alonso has said that he’s going to decide whether he wants to carry on in F1 next season after this year’s summer break.
The double world champion has been pretty vocal in the past about not liking the current era of Formula 1 and hopes that the 2017 rules revamp will make the sport more to his liking.
2017 is also the last year of his three-year contract with McLaren-Honda. It’s certainly been more harmonious than his first stint with the team was but it’s not been without it’s problems, with the performance and reliability of the Honda power units being the focus of the Spaniards frustrations on more than one occasion, most memorably when he called them ‘GP2 engines’ over team radio at Suzuka.
His hope has been that the 2017 rule changes would make things more exciting for him and help turn around the fortunes of the McLaren team. As a result Alonso insists he’s fully motivated for the upcoming season.
“I start this year with maximum commitment, I really enjoyed the break, I really needed the break until January 10,” he said at the launch of the MCL32.
“I was relaxing, charging the batteries mentally, surrounded by family, friends in a quiet environment. Then from that moment, the maximum moment – more or less the same of what I have been doing every single winter, but maybe a little bit more emphasis on neck, shoulder and arms to prepare for this year’s car.”
“I arrive now with a completely new motivation, new challenge in front of me, that I can give something extra, compared to the rookies or people who didn’t drive the old cars. I’m happy and motivated, it was a long break from November 27 in Abu Dhabi until now, for us and me it was the right time, perfect timing.
When asked for his thoughts on the new regulations he confirmed that he’s hopeful they’ll be more exciting than in previous years and that he expects to be able to push them much harder in races.
“From the sport I am expecting change in terms of how exciting it is to drive these cars. If we go back to what we had in the past a little bit, how we manage also the tyres, the fuel, the charge…
“All these difficulties that we have in the modern F1 in last four or five years with the turbo engine, it has lowered a little bit the racing spirit. We were saving something – batteries, tyres or fuel, not a single lap in the race we could push as much as we wanted. Definitely I hope these new regs bring back a bit the fighting spirit and racing spirit and that is something we find out in the first couple of races.”
Us too Fernando, us too. But despite his positive attitude he’s reserving judgement on his F1 future beyond 2017 and has said that he won’t even be thinking about it until after the summer break in September.
“I will see. That’s a question that I will answer after the summer break,” he said. “Around September is a good time to start thinking and sitting with yourself, and start deciding what to do. Until September, after the summer break, I will not think about anything about the future.”
This year’s silly season is set to be a particularly silly one as several top drivers are out of contract at the end of the season, so Alonso’s decision is likely play a big part in any discussions.
If he does decide to walk away from F1 it seems unlikely that he’ll be away from racing for long, as he’s already hinted that he’s got some sort of future waiting for him in the World Endurance Championship once he’s done with F1.
Some thought that Alonso might even walk away from F1 before the season even starts, but his comments don’t seem to suggest that that’s even an option. McLaren won’t need to get Jenson Button to ‘do a Massa’ and un-retire just yet.
Whatever happens and whatever he decides, let’s just hope that McLaren-Honda have come up with a good enough package to allow Alonso to fight somewhere near the front. Seeing him scramble around in the midfield for the past couple of seasons has been a huge waste of his talent, and F1 having its best drivers all fighting at the front together will go a long way towards helping improve its appeal as it enters a new era.