McLaren have announced that former Formula One world champion Fernando Alonso is to leave the British team, after both parties agreed to a ‘mutual parting of ways’.
The Spaniard, who joined the squad from Renault at the start of the 2007 season, originally had two years left to run on his contract but in a statement released on Friday, it is revealed that after discussion, it’s been decided ‘it would be in the best interests of both parties to bring the relationship to an end’.
Over the course of the season, Alonso has expressed his dissatisfaction at McLaren, in particular not receiving fair treatment. Even though he won four races for the team and finishing third in the championship standings, the relations between the Spaniard and Ron Dennis had become increasingly strained in recent months.
To end this difficult period by parting ways is the best of both worlds in my opinion. This is what Dennis had to say about the outgoing champion:
“He is a great driver but for some reason the combination of Vodafone McLaren Mercedes and Fernando has not really worked out, and in the end we reached a stage where none of us could find a way to move forward,” explained the McLaren team principal. “We all believe that our joint decision to part company is for the best, and we will now continue to focus on our 2008 world championship challenge.
Everybody at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, especially McLaren’s Spanish Partners Banco Santander and Mutua Madrilena and the team’s title partner Vodafone, want to wish Fernando all the best for the future.”
As for Alonso, he commented that, although he never really felt at home at McLaren, he still believed they were a great squad. “Since I was a boy I had always wanted to drive for McLaren, but sometimes in life things do not work out,” explained the 26 year-old. “I continue to believe that McLaren is a great team. Yes, we have had our ups and downs during the season, which has made it extra-challenging for all of us, and it is not a secret that I never really felt at home.
“I know there have been suggestions of favouritism within the team and people say a lot of things in the heat of battle, but in the end I was always provided with an equal opportunity to win. Today’s decision allows all of us to focus on 2008, and I wish the team, Vodafone, Banco Santander, Mutua Madrilena and all the other team partners who I have worked closely with during the year, the best for the future.”
And so it ends the Alonso-McLaren partnership… Where next for the Spaniard? Will he return back to Renault – in which he won his two drivers’ title? Perhaps there is a possible position at Toyota (following the departure of Ralf Schumacher)? Or maybe, there is a chance at both Red Bull and BMW Sauber?
As for Lewis Hamilton – the championship runner-up – who will partner him in the second seat at McLaren? The rumours seem to point to three drivers who could possibly be his new team-mate in 2008. These three are: Nico Rosberg, Adrian Sutil and Heikki Kovalainen.
Nico Rosberg currently drives for Williams. He is under contract with the British team but it will be interesting if Frank Williams (team boss) is willing to release his driver for a seat at McLaren…
For Adrian Sutil, it will be a dream come true if the German can drive for the top team after racing all-season in the Spyker. His pace in the orange/black car was stunning and it would be amazing if Sutil were given the opportunity to drive for Dennis.
But you have to say that Heikki Kovalainen remains the favourite to land the seat. If this happens, Kovalainen would be Ron Dennis’s third Finnish driver in seven years, following Mika Hakkinen and Kimi Raikkonen. In addition, it would allow a straight swap with Renault for the outgoing Fernando Alonso.
But at this stage in time, it is unclear who will partner Lewis and which team Fernando will drive for. This is all speculation so we shall wait and see what happens in this mad world that is Formula One!