McLaren extends Fernando Alonso's contract for 2018 Formula 1 season
McLaren has announced an extension of Fernando Alonso's deal, which will see the Spaniard drive for the Woking outfit in the 2018 Formula 1 season.
While the number of years hasn't be mentioned on his contract beyond 2018, but the team stresses on it being a 'long-term' deal between the two parties.
“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 Alonso.
"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.”
The two-time champion had re-joined McLaren in 2015 when Honda became its engine partner, with a hope to win more world championships together.
However, with the Japanese manufacturer struggling to cope up with the demands of the new technology and unable to catch up with the likes of Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault, it left Alonso to ponder his future.
Even though he still wants to compete in F1 and win more titles, but his priority is also now to become the only second driver to claim a Triple Crown - by competing and winning in the Indy 500 and the Le Mans 24 Hours races.
After McLaren announced it parting ways with Honda and joining hands with Renault for 2018 and beyond, it became evident for Alonso to stay back with the Woking squad for few more years.
Zak Brown commented: “I’m delighted to be able to confirm that Fernando will remain at McLaren. He has been a fantastic asset to the whole organisation 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 win-ning again in F1 – and, believe me, we are all keen to do that.”
Eric Boullier added: “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’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.”
The Spaniard will continue its partnership with Stoffel Vandoorne, while the reserve and third driver role is expected to be given to the 2017 European F3 champion Lando Norris - after Jenson Button deciding to not return to F1 anymore.