What are Alonso’s options for 2018?

 

Shanghai International Circuit, Shanghai, China.
Saturday 08 April 2017.
World Copyright: Andy Hone/LAT Images
ref: Digital Image _ONY5020 via Pirelli Media

 

If he stays in F1:

Keep the seat at McLaren

It seems like the least likely option, but if by some miracle Honda improve the engine and McLaren suddenly look competitive, then he might—just might—stay for another season. If the power unit doesn’t find any obvious straight line speed and Honda isn’t prepared to stump up a hefty chunk of salary, he has openly said he’ll be off.

Back to Ferrari as Kimi’s replacement

If you follow Fernando’s pattern, he constantly returns to his old racing teams. Renault to McLaren, back to Renault, a trip to Ferrari and then back to McLaren. The next stage of the pattern is a return to Ferrari. Kimi is not certain to be around next year and whilst Alonso didn’t leave on the best of terms, he definitely left McLaren under worse circumstances.

Taking Bottas’ seat

Valtteri might have won his first Grand Prix this year, but he already appears to be playing an understudy role to Lewis Hamilton. Sitting on a one-year contract means that it won’t cost Mercedes anything to replace him. They can clearly afford Alonso’s wage and to find a winning car, he might even take a pay cut.

There’s no room in the Red Bull inn

Very simply, there is only one chance of Alonso taking to the Australian grid in a Red Bull. It involves either Ricciardo or Verstappen being taken over to a Silver Arrow or to the Scuderia in Maranello. If one of those seats is available and Fernando doesn’t get it, expect him to be extremely motivated in whichever car he ends up with.

A rejuvenated Renault

We know that Fernando had his most successful years under the Renault umbrella, but today it is a very different team to the one he remembers. Having said that, they are improving and we all know that Palmer’s seat is less than secure. Hulkenberg looks pretty good and there’s no talk of him moving anywhere anytime soon, so a Hulk and Fernando line up might be the option.

Williams, Force India nor Haas

There’s so little chance of Alonso going to a team which has no chance of taking a win. There’s even less chance of him doing so if they can’t match his salary ambitions. At least at McLaren he is getting paid well to have a rubbish engine. Not one of these three teams look likely to win a race without some major incident at the front of the grid, and Alonso can’t afford to wait for that to happen.

Life outside of F1:

WEC

It’s no secret that Alonso would like a crack at Le Mans as part of the Triple Crown. A year or two in WEC would not only give him the Le Mans entry he is after but also give him the schedule space to enter the Indy 500 again. Mark Webber tried to get him to the Porsche WEC team for a while and from all reports he was very close. If he put the feelers out for a seat, it would be hard to imagine any team not immediately making space for him. Imagine two million people tuning in to watch him practice around Magny Cours, that’s the sort of publicity any team would dream of.

IndyCar Series

Why not? He went, he saw, he so nearly conquered. There’s a proven path for ex-F1 drivers making the move; Brabham, Hill, Fittipaldi, Piquet, Mansell. These are legends in our sport and went over the pond to have a crack at a different form of racing. Then there’s the current crop of ex-F1 racers, less illustrious, but if Max Chilton can make a significant impact, imagine what Alonso could do with a repeated attempt.

Leave racing altogether

There is absolutely nothing which Alonso has left to prove to anyone about anything. He was the youngest F1 World Champion, is revered as one of the best drivers in the current crop and in the list of all-time, he even manages to get the McLaren with its GP2 engine into Q3.

Why would he not leave and start the next phase of his life? He has been shown a great example by Jenson Button. He’s taken to life away from F1, like Fernando to the Indy 500.

It is widely known that Alonso’s contract is up at the end of the year and there is nothing which could force him to race next season. The only thing which might tempt him would be a front of the grid seat. We’re sure he’d like to finish his career having at least won a few more races, instead of breaking down before the lights even go out.

However Alonso decides to spend the next few years, we know for certain that he has given us an amazing experience. Just look at what he did in Singapore in 2010, driving a car which had no right to be on the front two rows of the grid, he hauled the car to pole and then dominated the race all the way to the flag. It might not have the hallmarks of a Button Canadian win, but it just showed what the man could get out of a half-decent car.

Andy Robinson

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