Fernando Alonso wants to finish career with McLaren
"It's more of a long-term partnership," says Alonso after penning new McLaren deal; Team open to Alonso pursuing "other activities"
By Matt Morlidge and James Galloway in Austin
Last Updated: 20/10/17 6:09am
Fernando Alonso says he has agreed a "long-term partnership" with McLaren and wants to finish his career with the team after signing a new deal.
After months of speculation, McLaren confirmed Alonso's 2018 renewal ahead of the United States GP.
McLaren have described the contract as a "multi-year" agreement and Alonso has revealed he would like McLaren to be his last Formula 1 team.
"We don't talk about contract clauses but it's more of a long-term partnership," Alonso told Sky Sports News' Craig Slater in Austin. "I would be extremely happy to finish my career in McLaren.
"I don't think it's going to be one year."
McLaren chief Zak Brown confirmed the deal was for a "multi-year" period and contained the option for Alonso and the team to compete together in categories outside of F1. Earlier this year Alonso made his debut in the in a McLaren-branded car.
"We have structured an arrangement that allows Fernando to be with us for quite some time," said Brown. "Our desire is that however long Fernando wants to keep driving, and whatever that is that he wants to keep driving, that's with McLaren.
"So this is a multi-year arrangement that we're very exited about."
Alonso admitted he had "doubts" about whether he would continue in F1 after returning to the sport following his Indy 500 adventure before deciding to stay at McLaren for 2018 in early September.
"After summer break, maybe about Spa and Monza, I was ready to make an extension of the contract," he added.
The Spaniard also confirmed he had a "few conversations with other teams to know the projects and situations" - including, according to Alonso, some 2017 race-winning outfits.
Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull are the only teams to have won races this season.
After the Indy 2017 adventure, is Le Mans next?
Alonso impressed at the Indianapolis 500 this year for McLaren-Andretti, which Brown arranged, and has frequently admitted he is targeting a career Triple Crown - winning Le Mans, the Indy 500 and the Monaco GP, which Alonso first won in 2006.
But while the Indy once again clashes with the Monaco GP in 2018 - which Alonso doesn't want to miss in a more competitive car - he could yet race in the Le Mans 24 Hours.
Asked if Alonso's deal contained the option to race in the event, Brown said "some other activities are possible".
"There's not a 'Le Mans clause' per se," said Brown. "There is an understanding that if Fernando would like to do some additional racing that doesn't compromise our Formula 1 efforts then we'll be open to that conversation and flexible.
"As you saw with Indianapolis earlier this year, we're an organisation that likes to race and Fernando Alonso is the biggest racer in this pit lane."
Back to winning ways in 2018?
Key to the 36-year-old's committal appears to be McLaren's decision to dump engine suppliers Honda after a failed partnership in favour of Renault power, with which he won his two world championships in 2005 and 2006.
The McLaren-Honda project hasn't garnered a singled podium in three years but Alonso insisted the Woking team hasn't "forgotten how to win" and is convinced victories will come with Renault, who will also supply their works team and Red Bull next season.
"I took my time to really study everything that I could and we see in the last races that Red Bull were on the podium with both cars in Malaysia and Suzuka," Alonso added.
"We know what the Renault engine can do and that gives us extra confidence."
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