Uncompetitive manufacturers could quit, warns Whitmarsh

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McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh has warned engine manufacturers could quit the sport if they fall behind after the introduction of new engines regulations next year.

There has been little to separate the major manufacturers in terms of engine performance since the current V8s were introduced in 2006. But the advent of sophisticated V6 turbos with energy recovery systems next year could see some engine builders fall behind.

“I think one of the concerns for the sport is that it becomes a powertrain race,” said Whitmarsh.

“We are mindful of the fact that we currently have three and will shortly have four auto manufacturers. If one of those manufacturers doesn’t do a good enough job at the start of next year, and doesn’t have the scope by which they can become competitive, then there’s a pretty good chance they won’t be in Formula One for very long, which wouldn’t be good for the sport.”

McLaren will use Mercedes engines for the first year of the new regulations before switching to Honda power in 2015.

The rules on what can be changed on the engines will gradually become more restrictive over the coming years to reduce costs.

“There will be a phased homologation,” said Whitmarsh. “So there will be certain things that you can’t change from the outset and then at the end of the first year there will be more things you can change than in the second year, it’s a sort of phasing towards homologation.”

Alonso would be ‘very happy’ to finish F1 career with McLaren

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Fernando Alonso says he would be “very happy” to see out his Formula 1 career with McLaren after signing a new multi-year contract with the British team, announced on Thursday.

Alonso, 36, ended speculation about his future by agreeing a new deal with McLaren, hopeful of returning to the front of the field next year when the team swaps Honda power for Renault engines.

Alonso admitted to considering options outside of F1 before agreeing to stay at McLaren, and was thought to only be chasing a one-year extension in order to be in a position to snap up a more attractive seat in the volatile 2019 market.

However, Alonso confirmed in an interview with the official F1 website that the deal with McLaren stretched beyond the end of next year, adding he would be content to see out his time in the sport with the team.

“I never talk about contracts, but one thing I can say is it is a long-term partnership,” Alonso said.

“I am very happy to finish my career at McLaren. So I don’t think it is going to be only one year.”

Alonso also revealed he had options with teams high up the field in F1 for 2018 just a couple of months ago, but was always leaning to staying at McLaren despite not scoring a podium with the team in almost three years.

“There were some other options in F1. In the summer there were still some options at the top teams, but my desire was to stay with McLaren,” Alonso said.

“But at that time they were in conversation with different engine suppliers, so I had to give them time to sort out their situation.

“Then McLaren opted for a Renault engine which delayed my decision, because I had to understand what Renault’s plans were for next years.

“But when I had everything on the table, everything was pretty clear.”