1978 Formula 1 world champion and American racing legend Mario Andretti believes that Fernando Alonso could walk away from Ferrari if the team does not improve quickly after yet another difficult start to the season in 2014.
Two-time champion Alonso joined Ferrari in 2010 in a move that was supposed to take both driver and team back to their glory days. However, despite finishing as the championship runner-up on three occasions, Alonso has failed to enjoy the same kind of success with the team that he did with Renault. The car that has come out of Maranello since 2008 has rarely been the quickest on the grid, and Andretti believes that this could be enough to force the Spaniard to leave.
“Ferrari cannot be fighting for the final point,” he told gpupdate.net. “It’s not good for Ferrari and it’s not good for Formula 1. They need to be up front. But they know it.
“You can tell that everyone is frustrated, beginning with Luca di Montezemolo. I think the drivers are using every bit of restraint not to express themselves.”
For Andretti, Alonso is in a race against time. At the age of 32, he might be entering the final five years of his career, and a move away from Ferrari may be necessary if he is to add to his pair of championships.
“He’s still at the top of his game and he cannot afford to lose too many seasons,” Andretti said. “So I’m sure if the proper opportunity comes up he’ll consider it.
“When Lewis made the decision to go to Mercedes, lots of people were saying, ‘What the hell is he thinking?’ But look at what has happened. You never know what the next opportunity could be at the very top.”
The speculation surrounding Alonso’s future has been rife since the middle of last summer, when he joked that he wanted a Red Bull car for his birthday. In Singapore last year, Martin Whitmarsh suggested that McLaren would be interested in signing Alonso should be become available, but with a clear succession plan featuring Kevin Magnussen and Stoffel Vandoorne, it is difficult to see a place for him at Woking. Also, there might still be some scars from the dispute in 2007 that saw Alonso leave the team after just a single season.
That said, his enormous ability might be too big a lure for McLaren to refuse. All the while, Alonso remains adamant that he will see out his career with Ferrari, but it remains to be seen whether he stays true to his word in the face of another difficult year.