Alonso signs a long-term deal with McLaren

After months of speculation and suspense, Fernando Alonso has signed a multi-year deal with McLaren F1 team.

The deal was announced on Thursday before the US Grand Prix, ending uncertainty over McLaren’s future drivers.

According to sources, Alonso wanted to go for a one-year extension as 2018 will see a lot of openings for driver slots at different teams.

But the Spaniard brushed aside the rumours and said he is going for a multiyear deal with the British team since they have ended their relationship with Honda from next year.

We asked if the deal was for a single season, Alonso said: “No. We never discuss the contract clauses and we are not going to do it now, but it’s a long-term contract and we’ll see how things go.

“But I’m very excited for next year, with different expectations, and keen to put McLaren back where it deserves to be. I want Australia to arrive already.”

The two-time world champion took his time to do due diligence with all options presented to him and then finally decided to stay with the Woking-based team after a “cautious process”.

“We weren’t in a hurry, neither of us,” he said. “From the first moment I believed that McLaren’s project – or at least the chassis side – had taken the right step in terms of aerodynamics and in terms of mechanical grip.

“We left all doors open, I talked to everybody who wanted to talk, with all the different projects I had on the table, but the most convincing one was McLaren’s.

“They had their own particular situation with the engine: they needed to decide if they were sticking with Honda or changing supplier.

“In the end, they decided to change supplier and move to Renault and we had to wait a few more weeks to have all the information about the engine that I wanted.

“But now it was time to make a decision, and the decision is to stay with them because I think we can be very competitive next year.”

This will not be Alonso’s first ride with a Renault Engine. He won both his world titles while racing for the French team back in 2005 and 2006. So the reuniting is a special event for the Spanish driver.

“It’s very exciting. Driving again for Renault, even though it’s just the engine, is a good feeling.

“Red Bull has been showing it this year, with two cars on the podium in Japan, both cars on the podium in Malaysia, so we know what the Renault engine is capable of. Now we have to step up and make it happen.”

 A Stop for Indy 500

Alonso debuted at Indy 500 this year as he was keen to explore the series. But after committing to the new deal, he emphasised that he will not go back to Indianapolis 500 as it will clash with the Monaco Grand Prix next season.

“Obviously now with the new McLaren deal for next year, I can confirm that I will not be in the Indy 500 next year because it is Monaco GP the same weekend and the priority next year is to perform well in F1.

“But at the same time, I will confirm that I will be in the Indy 500 in the future. Whether it will be 2019 or 2020, whenever, it is a race that I definitely will experience again.”

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