Dennis open to Fernando Alonso making McLaren return

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Ron Dennis has said that he would have no problem with Fernando Alonso returning to McLaren despite their acrimonious year together back in 2007, which will only act to fuel rumors the Spaniard could be set to leave Ferrari.

However, Dennis did concede that the team needs to improve if it is to lure the two-time world champion away.

“I would have no problem,” he told Spanish publication Marca. “But we need a competitive package before we are able to attract drivers like Fernando.”

The McLaren CEO returned to the day-to-day running of the Formula 1 team at the end of last year after its worst campaign in thirty years, replacing Martin Whitmarsh. He has since looked to revamp the team with the arrival of young driver Kevin Magnussen, and a deal with Honda has already been struck that will see the Japanese manufacturer power McLaren in 2015.

Alonso’s one year stint with McLaren in 2007 was a story of success and conflict. The Spaniard expected to be the number one driver at the team alongside then-rookie teammate Lewis Hamilton, but tensions grew when the Briton challenged him. The season was also marred by the spygate scandal, which resulted in the team being excluded from the constructors’ championship and fined $100m. Ultimately, Alonso and Hamilton finished level on 109 points, one behind eventual champion Kimi Raikkonen.

At the end of the year, Alonso walked away and returned to Renault, with whom he won his world titles in 2005 and 2006. Upon joining Ferrari in 2010, a new era of success for both the driver and the team was expected, but the car has rarely given him a chance of winning the title despite coming close in 2010 and 2012.

Last summer, Alonso sparked rumors that he might be on the lookout for a seat elsewhere when he was quoted as saying that he wanted “someone else’s car” for his birthday. Despite him since insisting that he will remain at Ferrari, by opening the door, Dennis could yet tempt him to come back to Woking upon Honda’s return.

Should Alonso indeed make the move, it would most probably result in Jenson Button’s contract not being renewed, and given that he is in the final few years of his career, it could force him into retirement.

The move would also have implications for McLaren junior Stoffel Vandoorne, who is widely acknowledged as being Button’s natural successor, and is thought of very highly by the team.

However, as Dennis said, so long as McLaren remains fighting for the small points, it will take a lot to tempt Alonso away from Maranello. This rumor is only set to rumble on for the rest of the season, though.

SMP Racing unveils BR1 LMP1 car in Bahrain ahead of WEC entry

SMP Racing
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SMP Racing has publicly unveiled its new BR1 LMP1 car that will enter the FIA World Endurance Championship from 2018.

SMP Racing opted to pull out of racing full-time in the WEC for 2017 in order to focus on its preparations for an LMP1 entry the following year, with the decision being taken long in advance of Porsche’s exit announcement.

Officials from the Russian-backed SMP Racing, as well as drivers including recent IndyCar racer Mikhail Aleshin (sporting a broken arm in a sling), Vitaly Petrov and Sergey Sirotkin were all on hand to unveil the car on Friday in the Bahrain International Circuit paddock ahead of this weekend’s WEC finale.

The BR Engineering BR1 features a Dallara chassis and an AER engine, and has completed over 2,000 km in private testing, with further running set to be completed in the coming weeks.

SMP Racing plans to field two cars in the WEC’s LMP1 class next year, and is keen to get as many Russian drivers as possible in the seats from its wide pool of talent.

Even with Porsche’s departure from LMP1, the class is set to feature a bigger field thanks to the increased number of privateers moving up, with Toyota set to remain the sole manufacturer in the class.