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Alonso 'will likely stay' at McLaren - if Honda is dumped

Fernando Alonso Daytona 24 Hour
© XPB 

McLaren's executive director Zak Brown says that he expects Fernando Alonso to stay with the team in 2018.

However, he admits that the price of keeping Alonso could well involve spitting from their current engine providers Honda in favour of a switch to Renault.

"He loves the team, and he's passionate as ever to drive," Brown told Sky Sports F1 after the Italian Grand Prix. "He's got a lot of adrenaline and aggression on the track, as we know.

"There's been some reports about IndyCar and things of that nature, [but] he wants to be in Formula 1."

Alonso's contract with McLaren expires at the end of 2017. He's also at the end of his tether with a never-ending run of reliability and performance issues with the team's supply of Honda engines.

"He just wants us to be in a competitive situation," explained Brown. "We need to get more competitive. This weekend showed we're just really not making any significant progress.

"How long can you wait before you have upset drivers, and upset partners, and upset fans?" he added. "Everyone's hanging in there with us, but it can't go on forever."

Alonso's demand for a 'race winning car' next year is believed to be pushing McLaren toward dumping Honda in favour of a deal with Renault.

Asked if he thought Alonso would stay on in that scenario, Brown replied: "Very likely. Very likely."

That decision still hasn't been made. And even if McLaren does stick with the Japanese manufacturer, Brown said it didn't automatically follow that Alonso would head for the exit.

"I wouldn't rule him out [of staying, even] if things stay status quo," Brown insisted. "With the stuff that we are seeing, that we're going to further review this week, I wouldn't say it's a forgone conclusion if we continue with Honda that he doesn't continue with us."

McLaren suffered a double retirement at Monza. But Brown said that current performance was largely irrelevant to the engine decision at this point.

"We know what are the options, we need to make a decision. We need to concentrate more on next year, not this year's results.

"It's more than one problem," Brown replied when asked what the main concerns with Honda's engines were. "But it's fairly consistent. The MGU-K and the MGU-H, we've had lots of failures there.

"We think we understand the lack of power - friction in the engine," he continued. "It's not different problems all the time, but it is a few problems."

"I'll keep looking at what options are there for next year," he added. "I need to study all of them and make a decision."

As for when McLaren will make their decision over whose engines they will be using next season, Brown hinted that an announcement was imminent.

"It's an important week for McLaren to make some decisions," he said. "We've been very close with the FIA and Chase Carey and met with them today. They're being very helpful. Everyone's working together to get us through this.

"We want to make sure everything is handled well with Honda and they stay in the sport, whether that's with us or another team.

"Hopefully we'll all know something before Singapore so we can comment on it there," he said. "We're going to make a decision in that time frame, or ultimately we'll get in a position where we technically create some challenges with our chassis.

"What we can't have is solve our power issue and then end up showing up with a chassis that's not adequate. So we have to pretty much make a decision next week."

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