Fernando Alonso's next move may not be what you think

Inside the Suzuka paddock, I'm hearing a number of rumors so let's take a look at the realistic possibility of each.

Fernando Alonso's next move may not be what you think
Fernando Alonso, Ferrari F14-T
Fernando Alonso, Ferrari
Fernando Alonso, Scuderia Ferrari
Fernando Alonso, Ferrari F14-T
Honda Formula 1 power unit for the 2015 season
Fernando Alonso, Ferrari
Andrea Stella, Ferrari Race Engineer with Fernando Alonso, Ferrari
Pole sitter Nico Rosberg, Mercedes AMG F1, and team mate Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 in the qualifying FIA Press Conference
Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton
Marussia F1 Team logo
Jules Bianchi, Marussia F1 Team and Adrian Sutil, Sauber F1 Team 06
Sauber F1 Team logo
Fernando Alonso, Ferrari
Fernando Alonso, Ferrari F14-T makes a pit stop
Fernando Alonso, Ferrari F14-T

The Suzuka paddock was thrown into a spin on Saturday morning with the pre-practice announcement that Sebastian Vettel would be taking his leave of Red Bull at the end of 2014, one year before his contract with the Milton Keynes racers was due to expire.

Would McLaren be a step down for the Spaniard?

With Vettel almost certainly off to Ferrari, the question is where will Fernando Alonso end up?
Daniil Kvyat’s promotion to a Red Bull race seat leaves the Milton Keynes option closed for at least one year, meaning that Alonso’s options are reduced to a prisoner’s dilemma of least-worst options.

While the Spanish racer could make the move to McLaren, putting all his eggs in the well-funded Honda basket, as things stand at present a return to Woking would be something of a demotion. Ferrari may not have been the most competitive of teams in recent years, but McLaren have fared rather worse when it comes to championship contention.

Honda behind on power unit

In Suzuka there were rumours aplenty that work on the Honda power unit is three months behind schedule, with the current offering overweight and thirsty for fuel. But as long ago as Suzuka 2013 there were stories that the Honda management style of laborious and slow board-level decision making was keeping power unit progress minimal. There is no reason to believe that there will be a rapid turnaround in the next six months.

Alonso could take a one year hiatus

Rather than going straight to McLaren-Honda, Alonso would be better served taking a year out to see whether Woking can get it working. And if a sabbatical sounds like an early death to the competitive animal? Then he will be forced to look elsewhere.

An unexpected opening at Mercedes on the horizon?

Depending on the outcome of this year’s drivers’ championship, there may or may not be an unexpected opening at Mercedes, irrespective of the state of anyone’s contract. Both Vettel and Alonso were contracted to their respective teams for 2015, after all. Formula One driver contracts are little more than starting points for negotiations. Should an opening appear with the sport’s current dominators, and proud owners of the best power unit in the business, Alonso will grab the opportunity with both hands and not look back.

Buying into a team?

And if Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg both decide that they’re happy(ish) where they are?
Reports that the Asturian might throw all of his energies into a cycling team are far from the mark, with Spanish sources confirming that the Formula One driver has been told in no uncertain terms that he is not welcome as a team owner in their field.

But there is the possibility of team ownership - or investment, at least - in the far more familiar environs of Formula One.

Investing into Ferrari connected Marussia or Sauber?

Alonso has previously mooted the possibility of investing in a Formula One team at the end of his racing career, and it is hardly a secret that at present there are four teams crying out for some form of financial support. Both Marussia and Sauber have Ferrari connections, but the logical move would be for the double-champion to consider a Hinwil investment.

The Swiss team are racers to their core, a characteristic shared with Alonso. And while the likes of Lawrence Stroll have been sniffing around, he is offering terms that - at present - are viewed by team founder Peter Sauber as rather unappealing. Contrary to Stroll’s desires, an Alonso investment would not have strings attached including majority control of the team and a say in the outfit’s management structure.

While Alonso would have to wave goodbye to the prospect of future titles if he moved from race driver to team investor (even if the investment included a year or two in the cockpit), one way to guarantee an enduring legacy in Formula One is to be the man who made it possible for the grid’s fourth-oldest team to keep on racing.

All that is certain at this point, however, is that Kvyat’s promotion has scuppered Alonso’s most obvious Plan A. And with Plan Bs popping up all over, the calculating racer will be weighing up his options until the conclusion of the drivers’ championship determines whether or not there will be an open door - and open arms - at Mercedes.

shares
comments
UBIMET weather update: Super Typhoon Phanfone heads for Japan coast and Formula One

Previous article

UBIMET weather update: Super Typhoon Phanfone heads for Japan coast and Formula One

Next article

Tost says Toro Rosso seat '99pc' for Sainz

Tost says Toro Rosso seat '99pc' for Sainz
Load comments
The six critical factors that could hand F1 2021 glory to Hamilton or Verstappen Prime

The six critical factors that could hand F1 2021 glory to Hamilton or Verstappen

The 2021 Formula 1 title battle is finely poised with six races remaining, as just six points separate championship leader Max Verstappen from seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton. In such a closely-fought season, the outcome could hinge on several small factors playing the way of Red Bull or Mercedes

Can Whitmarsh appointment help Aston succeed where its F1 rivals failed? Prime

Can Whitmarsh appointment help Aston succeed where its F1 rivals failed?

Aston Martin owner Lawrence Stroll is determined to make the group a billion-dollar business. MARK GALLAGHER analyses his latest play – bringing former McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh into the fold

Remembering Switzerland’s first F1 winner Prime

Remembering Switzerland’s first F1 winner

Stepping up to F1 in 1962, Jo Siffert shone with Rob Walker Racing Team and BRM before his career was abruptly ended in a fatal crash at Brands Hatch in 1971. Kevin Turner looks back at the life of Switzerland's first F1 winner on the 50th anniversary of his death

Formula 1
Oct 21, 2021
What Verstappen is risking with his current stance on 2021 F1 world title defeat Prime

What Verstappen is risking with his current stance on 2021 F1 world title defeat

OPINION: Max Verstappen is back in the lead of the 2021 Formula 1 drivers’ championship, with the season’s final flyaway events set to get underway in the USA this weekend. But a defensive stance he’s recently adopted could have a lasting impact for the Red Bull driver when it comes to his chances of defeating Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes

Formula 1
Oct 21, 2021
The hidden Ferrari struggle that Sainz’s recent charge put to rest Prime

The hidden Ferrari struggle that Sainz’s recent charge put to rest

Despite appearing to adjust to life as a Ferrari driver with relative ease, it was far from straightforward under the surface for Carlos Sainz. But, having made breakthroughs in rather different routes at the Russian and Turkish races, he’s now targeting even greater feats for the rest of the Formula 1 season

Formula 1
Oct 20, 2021
The final throes of Brazil's fleetingly successful F1 team Prime

The final throes of Brazil's fleetingly successful F1 team

Emerson Fittipaldi is better remembered for his Formula 1 world championships and Indianapolis 500 successes than for the spell running his eponymous F1 team. Despite a hugely talented roll call of staff, it was a period of internal strife, limited funding and few results - as remembered by Tim Wright.

Formula 1
Oct 18, 2021
Why McLaren's expanding agenda will benefit its F1 resurgence Prime

Why McLaren's expanding agenda will benefit its F1 resurgence

In the 1960s and 1970s, McLaren juggled works entries in F1, sportscars and the Indy 500 while building cars for F3 and F2. Now it’s returning to its roots, expanding into IndyCars and Extreme E while continuing its F1 renaissance. There’s talk of Formula E and WEC entries too. But is this all too much, too soon? Stuart Codling talks to the man in charge.

Formula 1
Oct 17, 2021
How Tsunoda plans to achieve his F1 potential Prime

How Tsunoda plans to achieve his F1 potential

Yuki Tsunoda arrived in grand prix racing amid a whirlwind of hype, which only increased after his first race impressed the biggest wigs in Formula 1. His road since has been rocky and crash-filled, and OLEG KARPOV asks why Red Bull maintains faith in a driver who admits he isn’t really that big a fan of F1?

Formula 1
Oct 15, 2021