Alonso: Of course I’m staying

A new season but the same question as Fernando Alonso was again forced to deny that he could quit Formula 1 before the end of his three-year McLaren contract.

Alonso is entering his second year with the Woking team having spent a large part of a wretched 2015 refuting speculation that he could quit both the team and the sport.

Back in action with McLaren-Honda on Tuesday, as he replaced Jenson Button for the second day of pre-season testing, Alonso was yet again questioned about his future.

And, as he had so often done last year, he insisted he will see out the three years.

“Of course, and next year as well,” he said when asked if would stay in F1 this season.

“I’m absolutely surprised by the rumours. But all week there have been some rumours.

“I think that when there are too many weeks or months without action on the track then there is a dangerous tendency to be creative on the news. It’s good now we are on track and hopefully, there will be no more rumours.”

As for his predictions for the season ahead, the Spaniard reckons Mercedes, who have been the busiest team out on track on the opening two days of testing, remain the team to beat.

“I think Mercedes’ domination has not finished and they are very, very strong,” Alonso said.

“There have been some interesting days in testing at the first two days, but with that amount of laps [Mercedes completed 156 laps on the first day and 172 on day two] it means you have very clear things to learn.

“When they put the potential on the car as well it means they will be stronger than ever probably, more than the last two years.”

As for whether McLaren could get the better of Mercedes on a Sunday and claim a victory for themselves, Alonso admitted that won’t be an easy feat to achieve.

The double World Champion: “I think to win is not an easy task [for McLaren], but I’m very proud of the team and of what we achieved in the last couple of months.

“I think the target of having the best car, the best chassis is reachable and very possible by the European races and motivation is very high.

“There is not a magic solution or crystal ball, but I would like to be competitive and fighting for something important. But honestly, I don’t know.”

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