The once-legendary F1 team has been no stranger to bad times recently – but can they pull together to hold on to their star driver Fernando Alonso?
As we find ourselves heading into the Formula One summer break, tiding ourselves over by re-watching highlights of the last several races and consuming only the dankest of memes to stem off F1 withdrawal, a certain star driver will be mulling over his decision to either stick with McLaren or jump ship in favor of greener pastures.
It’s no secret that McLaren’s rough patch has turned into a rough era – one that may be too much even for the double world champion to endure. The team could be observed leaving no stone unturned in an attempt to wring out as much performance out of their 2017 challenger while Honda toiled away with their lemon of a power unit. And yet, even in the midst of all the chaos, McLaren’s Zak Brown was doing all he could to orchestrate Fernando Alonso’s stint in the Indy 500. Even McLaren’s COO, Jonathan Neale, piped up with his desire to retain Alonso’s services:
“If I put my personal colors 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.
I do think he is driving as well as ever. If you look at how hard it is to overtake a round in Hungary generally and then look at the move he made on Sainz – that was great.
He tried a move the first time, he didn’t quite make it stick but he got it the next time round. To do that safely and cleanly as he did is a great demonstration of his skill and fighting spirit.” – Jonathan Neale
Neale’s sentiment that Alonso’s performance is still up to the high standard that it has been in the past is one that still remains to be widespread among the fanbase – and Alonso himself. The Spaniard is undoubtedly aware that his ability to manhandle the car around the track is up with the likes of Hamilton and Vettel, and his stint in performance purgatory is his worst nightmare come true.
There’s a distinct sensation that no matter how much effort Honda puts forth into fixing their beleaguered power unit, there’s no keeping Alonso. It’s a shame to have to accept such a result as canon, particularly since Honda appeared to have stabilized their power unit – even if it was three years too late.
Whatever happens after the summer break is anyone’s guess – but let’s hope that it’ll be enough to keep the famous driver in McLaren’s good fortunes.