Fernando Alonso has his heart set on landing a drive with a top Formula One team in 2018. But despite the fact that he’s performing as well, if not better, than he ever has, those teams might not want him.
Alonso’s most likely destinations next year are Mercedes-AMG Petronas and Scuderia Ferrari — or, at least, that appeared to be the case prior to Thursday. During the Austrian Grand Prix press conference, Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel both were asked whether they want the Spaniard as their teammate next season.
Neither one said yes.
Although both answers might seem like a means of dodging the question, they actually could support our speculation that Valtteri Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen will be retained by their respective teams.
Ferrari’s culture has changed since the arrival of team boss Maurizio Arrivabene in 2014, but some of the Maronello, Italy-based program’s traits persist. As a result, Vettel largely is considered the team’s No. 1 driver and, while he doesn’t wield as much power in the team as Michael Schumacher once did, likely has some say in who he’s paired with.
His comment, in fact, echoes ones he made during silly season in 2016. Lo and behold, Ferrari ultimately kept the Finn around.
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff, conversely, prefers his drivers to get equal treatment, so Hamilton doesn’t have much input in who the team signs, despite being a three-time world champion. But as we’ve noted before, his productive working relationship with Bottas will factor heavily in Mercedes’ decision.
Should both the “Silver Arrows” and the “Prancing Horse” keep their driver lineups as-is for 2018, though, that puts Alonso in a difficult position. Renault Sport F1 Team admitted it can’t give him a competitive car, Red Bull Racing’s pair isn’t changing and no other team seems likely to fight up front next year.
Even though Alonso told McLaren-Honda he’s leaving if it can’t win by September, we’re frankly not sure where else he would turn.
Thumbnail photo via Honda Racing