Unsurprisingly, official confirmation that Fernando Alonso and McLaren have agreed to part company came on November 2nd. In a statement issued by the team it said "it would be in the best interest of both parties to bring the relationship to an ...
Unsurprisingly, official confirmation that Fernando Alonso and McLaren have agreed to part company came on November 2nd. In a statement issued by the team it said "it would be in the best interest of both parties to bring the relationship to an end". McLaren said it would confirm its driver line up for 2008 in due course, while Alonso did not indicate his intentions for next season.
"Since I was a boy I had always wanted to drive for McLaren, but sometimes in life things do not work out," said the Spanish double-champion. "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 Madrile?a and all the other team Partners who I have worked closely with during the year, the best for the future."
McLaren announced that it had signed Alonso for 2007 just weeks after he clinched his second title with Renault at the end of 2005. The team had previously done the same with Juan Pablo Montoya in 2003 and that went rather wrong as well. At the time that Alonso signed it was not known who his teammate would be for this season but it was eventually confirmed that he would partner McLaren prot?g? Lewis Hamilton.
Hamilton turned out to be a title contender and the media had a field day as stories assumed that Alonso was discomfited by the success of his rookie partner. The ensuing spy scandal and inter-team squabbling, for whatever reasons, made for an uncomfortable atmosphere at McLaren and its been widely presumed for some time that Alonso would leave despite a three year contract.
"Everybody at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, especially McLaren's Spanish Partners Banco Santander and Mutua Madrile?a and the team's title partner Vodafone, want to wish Fernando all the best for the future.," said team principal Ron Dennis.
"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. 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."
Alonso and Hamilton both were in the title fight until the last race in Brazil and finished on equal points, one point behind Ferrari's new champion Kimi Raikkonen. Many believe that McLaren's determination to stick to its policy of driver equality lost it the title, as if it had backed either one or the other of its drivers its much more likely it would have clinched the crown.
Speculation suggests that Alonso will return to Renault, the team with which he won both his titles, but as yet there is no confirmation that he will do so. The rumour mill is full of stories linking the Spaniard to the likes of Williams, Red Bull and Toyota amidst suggestion of a longer term plan in regard to Ferrari.
As for McLaren, Nico Rosberg is one name that has been strongly linked with the team despite Williams' apparent intent to keep hold of the youngster. But for the moment the future of Alonso and McLaren's line up for 2008 is no more than speculation and we'll just have to wait and see what happens next.