WOKING, England — The McLaren Formula 1 team confirmed Thursday that Fernando Alonso will return to the team for the 2018 Formula 1 season, with Alonso signing a contract extension after months of speculation about his future plans.
The Spaniard, a two-time F1 world champion, will embark on his fourth-straight year with McLaren and fifth overall, following a stint in 2007 that nearly delivered Alonso his third-consecutive F1 title.
No specifics about the length of Alonso’s new contract were revealed Thursday.
Thus far, Alonso has scored 75 championship points with McLaren since his return to the team in 2015, alongside and three top-five and 13 top-10 finishes in 52 Grands Prix.
Though his best run of the season is a sixth-place finish in Hungary, Alonso is optimistic for the future.
“It’s fantastic to be able to continue my relationship with everybody at McLaren,” said Alonso. “It was always where my heart was telling me to stay, and I really feel at home here. This is a fantastic team, full of incredible people, with a warmth and friendliness that I’ve never experienced elsewhere in Formula 1. I’m incredibly happy to be racing here.”
“Just as important, McLaren has the technical resource and financial strength to be able to very quickly win races and world championships in F1. Although the last few years have not been easy, we have never forgotten how to win, and I believe we can achieve that again soon. The last three years have given us the momentum to plan and build for the future, and I’m looking forward to that journey. I’m excited for our future together and I’m already working hard to make it a success.”
Overall, Alonso has a career record of 32 wins, 97 podiums and 22 poles in 287 starts across a 16-year career, experience that McLaren Technology Group Executive Director Zak Brown said will continue to strengthen McLaren as a whole.
“Fernando has been a fantastic asset to the whole organisation for the past three years, is an incredible individual and is one of the most accomplished and talented racing drivers of the modern era,” said Brown. “It always made sense for us to continue our journey together.”
“His commitment will allow us to further improve the attractiveness and potential of the wider group, and will ensure we head into 2018 feeling increasingly confident that we’ll be able to take a meaningful step forward. He fully understands and buys in to the direction we are taking. With Fernando, there is no doubt that we have a driver who can help us achieve our goal of winning again in F1 – and believe me, we are all keen to do that.”
Amid another lackluster season for McLaren with Honda power, the team inked a deal to switch to Renault engines for the upcoming season last month, with Scuderia Toro Rosso assuming the Honda contract for the upcoming year.
That should place the team in a stronger position for the 2018 season, where Alonso will pair up with young Belgian Stoffel Vandoorne for the second season in succession.
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Jacob Seelman is the Managing Editor of Race Chaser Online and creator of the Motorsports Madness radio show, airing at 7 p.m. Eastern every Monday on the Performance Motorsports Network.
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