Fernando Alonso will remain with McLaren in Formula 1 for the 2018 season after signing a contract extension with the British team, announced on Thursday ahead of the United States Grand Prix weekend.
Alonso joined McLaren for a second stint in 2015, only to spend the last three seasons mired in F1’s midfield and towards the back of the grid due to a lack of performance from the team’s engine partner, Honda.
McLaren announced in September it would be splitting with Honda at the end of the season, linking up with Renault in a bid to try and return to the front of the pack.
Alonso was known to be seriously considering his future with the team, but with few alternative options emerging, the Spaniard opted to extend his current stint with McLaren into a fourth season.
“It’s fantastic to be able to continue my relationship with everybody at McLaren,” Alonso said. “It was always where my heart was telling me to stay, and I really feel at home here. This is a fantastic team, full of incredible people, with a warmth and friendliness that I’ve never experienced elsewhere in Formula 1. I’m incredibly happy to be racing here.
“Just as important, McLaren has the technical resource and financial strength to be able to very quickly win races and world championships in F1. Although the last few years have not been easy, we have never forgot-ten how to win, and I believe we can achieve that again soon.
“The last three years have given us the momentum to plan and build for the future, and I’m looking forward to that journey.
“I’m excited for our future together – and I’m already working hard to make it a success.”
Zak Brown, Executive Director, McLaren Technology Group, added: “I’m delighted to be able to confirm that Fernando will remain at McLaren. He has been a fantastic asset to the whole organization for the past three years, is an incredible individual and is one of the most accomplished and talented racing drivers of the modern era.
“It always made sense for us to continue our journey together.
“His commitment will allow us to further improve the attractiveness and po-tential of the wider Group, and will ensure we head into 2018 feeling in-creasingly confident that we’ll be able to take a meaningful step forward. Fernando fully understands and buys in to the direction we are taking.
“Our shareholders have ambitious plans for the whole Group, and success within Formula 1 is a central pillar of that strategy. With Fernando, there is no doubt that we have a driver who can help us achieve our goal of winning again in F1 – and, believe me, we are all keen to do that.”
Alonso has stressed his bid to become just the second driver in history to win the Triple Crown of Motorsport – comprising the Monaco Grand Prix, Indianapolis 500 and 24 Hours of Le Mans – is a key focus in his racing future, having made his Indy 500 debut earlier this year.
Options are thought to be on the horizon for Alonso to race at Le Mans next year, with no date clashes existing with any F1 commitments.
Alonso will race alongside Stoffel Vandoorne at McLaren once again next year after the team confirmed in August it would be continuing with the Belgian as planned for 2018.
Brown hinted a deal was close in a teleconference with reporters earlier this week, and then McLaren posted this video in advance of the announcement. The team added a bit more in a further tweet.