Fernando Alonso has cooled speculation suggesting he could take a sabbatical from Formula 1, remaining adamant that he will be on the grid with McLaren in 2016.
Alonso rejoined McLaren for 2015 after a hostile exit from Ferrari, but has struggled to find any kind of form thanks to numerous issues with the Honda power unit used by the team.
After just two top-ten finishes and just 11 points in 2015, speculation has been rife about an early split between Alonso and McLaren as the Spaniard’s frustrations grow.
Time and time again, Alonso has insisted that he will see out his three-year deal with McLaren, but team CEO Ron Dennis hinted on Saturday that a sabbatical could be taken.
“He will definitely finish his career at McLaren,” Dennis said. “I have an open mind to anything, and some of the ideas involved those sorts of considerations: sabbaticals etc.
“When we have to take the decision, we will take it together, and at this moment of time, our drivers for next season are Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button.”
When asked if he intended to compete in F1 next year, Alonso said: “I will, I will.”
The Spaniard went on to say that he did not feel under pressure following Dennis’ comments, and that the team boss should be instead focusing on Honda.
“If he wants to put pressure on someone, I’m sure it’s not me,” Alonso said.
“If it’s someone, it has to be on Honda so they do a good job all winter.”
Alonso’s miserable campaign continued in qualifying for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Saturday as he finished 17th thanks to a puncture in Q1.
“Our car has performed better in every session than we initially anticipated,” Alonso said. “So it was cruel luck to get a puncture at possibly the most critical point of the whole weekend, the final run of Q1.
“That was unfortunate, because we’d been looking very competitive, and our car seems to be performing quite well around here.
“The race will be difficult owing to our straight-line speed deficit, but I’ll be aiming to make a good start, run a good strategy, and make up some positions. We’ll see what we can do tomorrow.”
The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 7am ET on Sunday.