Fernando Alonso will remain with McLaren for the 2018 F1 season and beyond after signing a new long-term contract with the team.
The double World Champion’s future has been the topic of hot debate throughout this year’s championship.
Disappointed with Honda’s performance, it was widely believed that Alonso’s future hinged on McLaren’s engine contract situation.
Last month, when the team announced that they would be swapping to Renault for 2018, Alonso didn’t commit to the team, raising questions.
But on Thursday he finally did.
“It’s fantastic to be able to continue my relationship with everybody at McLaren. It was always where my heart was telling me to stay, and I really feel at home here,” said the Spaniard.
“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.”
— Stoffel Vandoorne (@svandoorne) October 19, 2017
Asked if the contract was just for 2018, Alonso replied: “No.
“We never discuss the contract clauses and we are not going to do it now, but it’s a long-term contract and we’ll see how things go.
“But I’m very excited for next year, with different expectations, and keen to put McLaren back where it deserves to be. I want Australia to arrive already.”
McLaren racing director Eric Boullier welcomed the news.
“With Fernando, you really can’t ask for a better driver to deliver a result for you on a Sunday afternoon – and I think everybody in Formula 1 would acknowledge that sentiment,” he said.
— McLaren (@McLarenF1) October 19, 2017
“He’s always been clear to me that this is a team he loves, and that his heart has always been set on staying. Today’s announcement shows that he’s fully committed to racing and winning as a McLaren driver, and, while we’ve often shared his frustrations over the past few years, we now feel that we can deliver on our promise to give him a competitive car next sea-son.
“Consistency of driver line-up is one of those small but essential elements that really helps a team to maintain momentum, and, with Fernando and Stoffel, we’re lucky to be writing a fresh chapter with what we believe to be the best driver line-up in Formula 1.”
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