Alonso says McClaren has to win for him to stay
MONTREAL– Two-time Formula One world champion Fernando Alonso would like a better engine. He wants to keep the schedule the same, rather than add a handful of races. And he wouldn’t mind it if things were a bit more relaxed on the big-money, high-stakes circuit.
Most of all, though, he wants to win again.
Returning from a moonlighting stint at the Indy 500, Alonso said at the Canadian Grand Prix that he hasn’t decided whether he will return to McLaren next year.
Key in his decision: “We have to win.”
“If we are winning before September or something like that I will make a decision and I will stay,” he said on Thursday in a news conference at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. “The best decision, I will make after summer.”
Honda has struggled with its engine this year, with Alonso’s best finish this year 11th place, in Russia. He had been promised an upgrade before the Canadian Grand Prix, but it is not ready yet. The frustration has been evident for the Spaniard who won the 2005 and ’06 championships with Renault.
“What we all want is to win,” he said. “After three years, we are not in that position. Things have to change, I guess, for the team. And the same with me. I want to win, and I joined this project because I wanted to be world champion and we are not in that position. So, if you don’t see things changing and you are not in a competitive position, maybe you change projects.”
Alonso has zero points so far in the championship standings after six races. He skipped Monaco last month and ran the Indianapolis 500 instead, drawing a lot of publicity for the one-time gig. He led 27 laps before a blown engine knocked him out of the race with 20 laps to go.
Alonso seemed to be enjoying himself a lot more in Indianapolis, riding a skateboard through the paddock and playfully chugging milk for the cameras.
“The whole atmosphere is just different there. I think everyone is more relaxed, is happy. Everyone is proud of that race, that event,” he said. “They expect to have fun in that race … 33 drivers doing the race and just enjoy racing. Here, it’s more. Formula One is bigger in every sense. … There’s not the pressure and everything that Formula One has here, so it’s just different.”
Alonso also said he does not want Formula One to expand its schedule by a handful of races. There are 20 events this year and 21 planned for 2018, but the circuit’s new, American owners have talked about adding even more races to help expand its geographical footprint and grow.
The 35-year-old driver said that he would quit if the schedule grew to 25 races, noting it was a quality of life issue for him.
“If it’s increasing, like NASCAR, that they have 40 or 50 races, it’s not for me. It’s better for other drivers,” he said. “I started when the calendar was 16 races, plus the tests, and now we keep on increasing the races year after year and I think we are in a number that is quite demanding already. I think is already enough.”