Door closing on Fernando Alonso Mercedes F1 chance?
McLaren
Fernando Alonso
Posted By: Editor   |  09 Dec 2016   |  6:59 pm GMT  |  258 comments

After an extraordinary seven days since Nico Rosberg announced his retirement, Fernando Alonso confidant Flavio Briatore has played down the possibility of the Spaniard switching to Mercedes.

The Italian insists that Alonso will honour his Formula 1 contract with McLaren.

There has been intense speculation over the past week that Alonso would seek to join Mercedes after Rosberg made the shock announcement that he would retire from F1 just five days after he won the 2016 world championship.

Such a move would set up the fascinating spectacle of reuniting the Spaniard with Lewis Hamilton ten years after their explosive season as teammates at McLaren in 2007.

 Fernando Alonso Lewis Hamilton McLaren 2007

But Briatore, Alonso’s longtime manager and team boss at Renault when he won the 2005 and 2006 world titles, told Gazzetta dello Sport that the 35-year-old would see out the final year of his deal with McLaren, which began after he left Ferrari at the end of 2014.

“How is it that, whenever a seat becomes available, Fernando is always mentioned?” asked Briatore. “But there is a contract and we respect it.”

Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff added to the speculation surrounding Alonso’s future when he told Sky Sports earlier this week that the 32-time F1 winner was an option his squad is considering as a replacement for Rosberg.

Flavio Briatore

He said: “You have to consider Fernando. He is a driver I respect a lot. He combines talent, speed and experience. It’s all there.

“But he is in a contract with McLaren-Honda at the moment and we just need to weigh all the other options up.”

Following the news of Rosberg’s retirement, McLaren issued its own ‘hands-off’ warning that Alonso would not be leaving the British team and its new boss Zak Brown insisted that he was not concerned about the situation.

He said:”We have a contract with Fernando and he is very happy. Obviously he wants to be winning races, as do we, but I am not worried about that scenario.”

 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 2014

Alonso left Ferrari after failing to win a third world title during his five-season stint with the Scuderia, a situation that frustrated him after two near misses in 2010 and 2012.

He moved to McLaren for the start of 2015, which proved to be the team’s worst season for 35 years as it struggled with Honda’s underpowered V6 turbo engine.

But Briatore denied that Alonso’s current situation at McLaren was similar to the circumstances that led to him leaving Ferrari at the end 2014.

He said: “The situation was different and we had an agreement with [former Ferrari president] Luca di Montezemolo.

“If we didn’t win the title in 2014, we would be free. Luca kept that promise. It’s true that [then team principal Marco] Mattiacci offered us a three-year renewal, but we refused.”

What do you make of Briatore’s comments? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below or head over to the JAonF1 Facebook page for more discussion.

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1

Just in from Flavio: Nelson Piquet, Jr. will drive for MB next year!

2

Fernando would get a pay cut to go to Merc from McLaren-Honda, so Flavio’s cut would be less. Of course he’s not going to Merc.

3

FA’s own website or to the instagram https://www.instagram.com/p/BN1wulQg2dD/
You’ll see the following…

“Work for a cause, not for applause,
Live life to express, not to impress.”

Does that have any bearing on his attitude to remaining at McLaren do you think?
I hope it works for him!

4

I remember reading the story of how and why Fernando left Ferrari – I think on this website – and it bore very little relationship to what Flavio is saying here. If he’s making it up as he goes along, how much can we believe the rest ? I’d be interested James in your comment on that.

5

Since when did anyone believe the words coming out of Flavio’s mouth??? I do miss him, though. He used to be quite the character.

6

Merc have made a bid for Bottas and offered £8.4 million to release him and offered Wehrlein as part of the deal but his was and Paddy Lowe might be off to Williams with James Allison replacing him at Brackley. Read BBC F1 reporter Andrew Benson’s report.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/formula1/38282791

7

Guys, its not going to be Werhlein. Maybe he would work well in Fantasy F1 and deliver 90% of Hamilton’s points for 10% of the budget, but this is REAL F1, and when you are looking to fill the 2nd seat of what is expected to be a championship-winning team, then a kid with half a season’s experience is a long way from making it. Pascal’s time in a top team will come.. IF he can prove himself and AFTER he has paid his dues. Realistically we have very little idea of how good he really is, and that can only come with seeing more of him and how he compares against increasingly stronger team mates.

8

I don’t think Alonso is a realistic proposition.. there’s just too much baggage, and trying to fit him and Hamilton into the same team is not going to work. Toto is just trying to throw a (not very well concealed) curveball and get people focussing on one driver while he pursues his real target. Bottas is perfect; arguably as strong as Rosberg, has best years still ahead of him, and not going to step on anyone’s shoes. He carried a declining Williams for a coupe of years, but has stagnated badly and needs a fresh challenge… much like Rosberg did before he jumped to Mercedes.

9
Thread the Needle

McLaren contract must be water tight otherwise Alonso would be in a Mercedes, however it might still work out well for him next year if McLaren can built a quick car

10
Beentheredonethat

Let’s be honest with ourselves, the one and only reason Alonso is employed by McLaren is because of the Japanese. The guy embarrassed a traditional British racing team, costing them $100,million in fines and a loss of points, and 9 years later are forced to take him back. This is the height of hypocrisy, it seams as if Alonso has had his conscience seared with a hot iron, doesn’t he have any Shame?
Unlike McLaren, Mercedes are not liable to take him, a potential whistle-blower. Like they say, once bitten twice shy.
Alonso has his own self to blame for the position he’s now in, and I guess he now knows that “life is sometimes hard, but just”!!

11

What utter rubbish!!!

12

No, Beentheredonethat is correct.

At no time, before Zak Brown, have you seen anyone at McLaren talk about Alonso’s seat; it has always been about Button or Magnusson. That is because McLaren have no choice over Alonoso’s presence. Honda pays for him, and Honda insist that he has one of the seats.

Nor is the £100m thing rubbish. Alonso, with the rest of the McLaren team, denied to Ron Dennis and Whitmarsh that there was any Ferarri data there, and then used it to try to blackmail Ron Dennis into making him No 1 driver.

I don’t know if that is enough for the Mercedes / Daimler bosses to have a problem with him joining the team now though.

13
Stevan Vasiljevic

I think Alonso will not join Mercedes for a completely different reason. He is afraid to do so!

If Alonso was to move to Mercedes, he would be entering Hamilton’s playground. He would be fighting against Hamilton who is in best form of his career (despite losing the title this year, he is almost unbeatable). So Alonso would be in a disadvantage in Mercedes from the start and he could get comprehensively beaten by Hamilton. That would ruin his reputation of one of the best drivers in recent history and forever erase his status as “superb driver who always outperformed in the car he had driven, who could have won many more championships if only he had a better car.”

14

Alonso is a great driver but potential contract difficulties aside does Fernando really believe in his heart he can compete with Lewis at Mercedes? He knows he might be well beaten so far easier to stay at McHonda and pick up his £16m per season.

15

If FA doesn’t go for this he’s silly. F1 is a dog eat dog world – he needs to be pragmatic and realize he’s old, he has one last good chance, – this one.

If he really wants to be a 3-time champ he should move heaven and earth right now. Hell, drive for free next year, and use his proposed salary for next year to pay off the McContract.

16

Surely Alonso would be willing to deeply discount his income in exchange for possibly his last shot at a drive that would allow him to conquer a WDC, no?

Surely McLaren would highly value the opportunity to replenish their coffers after years without a title sponsor?

Surely Mercedes must want to preserve its hegemony in WCC titles and needs a top shelf driver that can counterbalance a rising Red Bull?

To me that’s alignment of all the parties.

It’s not breaking a contract if everyone involved agrees to the changes.

17

Surely Honda can do a Renault and finally come up with a semi-competitive engine for 2017. McLaren have a pretty good aero guy in a year where aero will be vital. I’m picking Nando’s luck finally changing and the McLaren becoming competitive.

18

So far the driver market seems set with very little movement until Merc makes their move, Also talking about moves, @Jamesallen How true is it that Paddy Lowe is moving over to Williams to replace Pat and work closely with James Allison? These rumours seem to be gaining momentum, what’s on you radar regarding this issue?

19

After Vettel won his 1st title back in 2010 I remember hearing Hamilton that the future competition will be between him and Vettel. I think Alonso is the past, I would prefer Vettel as Hamilton’s teammate: Imagine Vettel fighting for this 5th, and Hamilton busy to equal Vettel’s 4th. Anyways, I am 99.9 % certain it will be Wehrlein.

20

I doubt he was that concerned by all this argument dreamt up and had between fans He was probably on a beach somewhere.
Flav may have made it know he could be available in 2018 is maximum worth speculating and will probably be very damaging to PW if he gets the gig and is challenged on it at every interview.

21

This is f1, anything can happen and it usually does .
So Kimis going to mercedes then .

22

He’s never had any chance to take that seat.

23

ALO + Merc will not happen. To start with HAM will try to stop it with all means. More importatly, too many risk loosing too much $$$ (or pounds to be exact) if HAM gets the treatment ALO usually give his team mates…and the legend of the “fastest driver” is put to rest. And this time around Ron Dennis is not around to protect his protégé, hence ALO will be getting the same support as HAM…for the whole season…or two.

Last but not least, Toto does not need the best of the best (and the stress that will bring to him) to win, with the Merc package.

24

Oh, please! lol

25

I highly doubt Hamilton will care who his new team mate is, but I do think he would be surprised (as would most of the F1 world) if he was repartnered with FA.

26

James, what I get from all this speculation is that there’s no ringing endorsement for Pascal Wehrlein? Doesn’t it kind of show that Mercedes do not really believe in his abilities?

27

It seems that way. If Wehrlein was ‘it’, he’d have the seat already.

28

Yes, also remember that Ocon is the Mercedes driver who is moving up the grid in preference to Wehrlein, with Force India

29

I would like to see FA in Mercedes against LH again, however, that is not going to happen. Just check what TW is stating these days: “The dynamics between the two drivers is one of the factors we will consider”. I guess LH is in a very strong position at Mercedes now that NR has left the team. Even TW stated about the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix: “How the race panned out, we should have communicated differently and in hindsight let them race in the way they deemed to be appropriate.”

30

Okay here’s the final prediction.

The new Mercedes driver is going to be………drum roll……….

Nico Hulkenberg:

He’s German

His name is Nico

His credentials are impeccable – just check Wikipedia and look at the shipload of championship titles he has.

Amazingly consistent. He occupied right around grid spot 7 so many times with Force India they’ll have to retire that position.

He will be completely impervious to any of Hamilton’s mind games.

Hulkenberg will be the top gun Mercedes needs.

31

I reckon McLaren are at least two seasons away from being able to mount a championship challenge, and I think Alonso will retire at the end of this season. It’s sad he wasted so many years in uncompetitive machinery.

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