Fernando Alonso hopes to make final decision on McLaren future after Japanese GP
Spaniard says he still needs more info on McLaren-Renault project; Insists 2019 driver market won't influence choice
By Jonathan Green at Sepang
Last Updated: 02/10/17 2:43pm
Fernando Alonso says he hopes to reach a final decision on his future following the Japanese GP, but has once again hinted he will remain with McLaren.
The Spaniard's contract expires at the end of the season and despite expectations McLaren's long-anticipated switch to Renault from 2018 would trigger an extension, the Spaniard has yet to be persuaded to re-commit.
The two-time world champion revealed there had been little progress since the Singapore GP, where McLaren's split from Honda was confirmed, but was optimistic a solution would be reached before F1 2017 heads to America.
"In the next break will be good to make the final decision," Alonso told reporters at the Malaysia GP.
"Between Malaysia and Japan we will be busy at the track but definitely after Japan will probably be my wish or deadline to make the decision happen. I will choose wherever I feel is the best.
"I want to be competitive next year. I want to be back on the podiums, I want to be back having victories and fight for the world championship.
"I still need some more information to make this decision but at the same time, I remain optimistic because McLaren is one of the best teams in the history of Formula 1. I think we have everything to make it happen."
With Honda having contributed around $100m to McLaren's annual budget for the last three years, Alonso's current contract makes him one of the highest-paid drivers in the sport.
But asked by Sky F1 if his salary was proving a sticking point in discussions over a new deal, Alonso insisted: "It will not be a problem. The problem is how competitive we can be, that's the only thing."
Alonso also insisted the potential openings at Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull and Renault in 2019 would not have much impact on his final decision.
Asked how important flexibility was in, he replied: "It's not very important. My idea, my view of motorsport is much bigger than that."
When's the Malaysia GP on Sky?
It's the final Malaysia GP next weekend and you can watch all the Sepang action live with Sky Sports F1.
Alonso expects another tough weekend in Malaysia
Alonso saw his Singapore GP curtailed after just eight laps after suffering hefty damage to his MCL32 after being caught up in the first corner mayhem involving Sebastian Vettel, Max Verstappen and Kimi Raikkonen.
The 36-year-old was adamant following the race he could have finished on the podium, having made a blistering start from eighth to third off the line before he was collected by Verstappen's stricken Red Bull.
But with Malaysia putting more emphasis on the power unit, Alonso admits reaching Q3 and finishing in the points may be the best McLaren can hope for this weekend.
"That podium could have been one of the biggest things of my career but we missed it," he said.
"This circuit is not in the same category as Singapore in terms of power sensitivity so we will struggle a little bit more here. The targets are different, maybe being in Q3 and taking some points might be our maximum unfortunately.
"But we will try to achieve that. We need those points for the Constructors' Championship. We know there are still some difficult circuits for us and there may be more penalties to pay because I don't know if we have enough spare [engine components] to finish the season. Every opportunity that comes we need to take it."