Arguably, Fernando Alonso is one of Formula One’s biggest and best names. Easily, a four or five times champion? But no. Alonso, recently announcing his retirement, will leave the sport he has been part of for 17 years as ‘only’ a two time champion. His last coming almost 12 years ago. A seemingly never ending string of extremely poor decisions and bad luck have ultimately come to a point on the announcement day of his temporary one year retirement. Jenson Button describing the Spaniard as finally ‘coming to his senses,’ sadly sums up Alonso’s situation. It has become increasingly obvious that his only chance of any success was away from the biggest motorsport in the World. More specifically, away from McLaren. The 32 time Grand Prix winner’s last race win being five years ago and McLaren’s being six years ago.
However, Alonso does not seem to see it this way as the most likely option in 2019 looks to be a full time drive in the American IndyCar series, with McLaren. His quest to get the Triple Crown could possibly end in embarrassment for a team who have never looked good in the eyes of anyone for half a decade. But realistically, McLaren is the only company that would be able to afford the money that he has become used to in Formula One. Also, the only company who have a small chance of controlling a person who has caused ‘chaos’ in every team he has competed with.
A retirement in the 2017 Indy500 for Fernando Alonso in an Andretti Autosport Honda car badged as a McLaren Honda seemed to strangely be the final nail in the coffin of McLaren’s F1 relationship with Honda. A switch to an established F1 power unit supplier was agreed. This offered a glimmer of hope for all Alonso fans and who was left of McLaren’s fans. Maybe a more competitive Renault power unit would turn around the teams horrific fortune with Honda, and give Alonso a chance at the front. After only half a season in a highly uncompetitive McLaren Renault, and seeing his former team Ferrari, leading the Constructors Championship, gave Alonso no choice but to save his career and move on.
Throughout the 2018 F1 season, Alonso has also been competing in the World Endurance Championship in the front running Toyota TS050. Winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans being the highlight so far in his competing in the WEC’s super season. A taste of champagne once again has contributed to walking away from Formula One. Once the 2018-19 WEC season finishes in Summer next year, it is almost certain a drive in IndyCar will also be in progression or planning. He sure has the talent to win on the dangerous oval circuits, as shown last year, but juggling a future return to F1, being focused on the WEC and Le Mans, and being at the forefront of the most exciting story in motorsport could possibly distract his journey to the Triple Crown.
If he were to reach this almost unreachable goal, and McLaren significantly improved in F1, Alonso could well find himself returning to the team that unintentionally ended his F1 career. A return in the transition season of overhauled rules and regulations in 2021, aged 40 looks to still be on the table. If McLaren have not improved by then, no amount of money could tempt him to be a backmarker again. His free weekends could then be spent focusing on his karting school and clothing brand, Kimoa.
At this moment in time, during the 2018 season summer break, Fernando Alonso and McLaren Renault have nine more races remaining together- the partnership is highly unlikely to cover itself in glory in it’s current state.