Fernando Alonso’s 2015 destination has been the headline uncertainty in this season F1 silly-season rumour mill. With Red Bull essentially doing Ferrari’s work for them, in announcing Sebastian Vettel’s imminent Maranello arrival, it has been widely rumored that Fernando would depart the team at the end of the season. This is hardly a far-fetched theory considering that the Spaniard terminated his contract with his current employer ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix weekend. Despite the paddock still awaiting official conformation that Alonso is the next high-profile figure to head for the Scuderia’s exit door this season, former President, Luca Di Montezemolo has given commentators the biggest hint yet that their assumptions are correct.
Another Piece of the Puzzle
Despite Ferrari maintaining a coy approach to this season’s transfer window, the picture is beginning to become much clearer. Sebastian Vettel’s shock announcement in Japan set the ball rolling and Red Bull took no time at all to announce that Seb was Ferrari-bound. Considering the noise emanating from the Alonso camp at the time, analysts seemed certain that the four time champion would replace the Spaniard. However, Ferrari’s reluctance to pass comment has left a huge grey area to be filled.
Alonso and company have somewhat teased onlookers in recent days, revealing clues as to potential destinations. Niki Lauda confirmed that Alonso was not en route to a drive at the all-conquering Mercedes outfit in 2015 as early as the day of Vettel’s announcement. Then, in Russia, Alonso proclaimed that he would not be heading to a team powered by Brixworth’s very own Mercedes powertrain, ruling out the rumors of a surprise move back to Enstone. Today, speaking on ‘RAI 1 TV’, Di Montezemolo has stated that; “Alonso is leaving for two reasons: One, he wants another environment. Two, because he is an age when he cannot wait to win again.” At least at face value, this eliminates the theory that the man widely regarded to be the most complete driver in the sport is heading for a sabbatical. With this rumour quelled and a Lotus Mercedes drive off the agenda, all roads point to McLaren Honda.
Are we really surprised? Silly season has unquestionably thrown up some decidedly unexpected moves in recent history alone. Who could forget Jenson Button’s move away from the title winning Brawn GP in 2009, or even Lewis Hamilton’s declaration of intent by switching from McLaren to an underachieving Mercedes outfit just two years ago. Alonso may have left McLaren in acrimonious fashion once in his career, but both he and Ron Dennis now have experience of each others traits. They are older, wiser, and surely after the past two years of trials and tribulations at Woking, Alonso’s arrival is much sought after, even if his move to McLaren is made with one eye on a future Mercedes drive.
Obviously, the Honda powertrain will take time to perfect. In 2015, it will be a first generation unit competing against second generation alternatives, but with the resources and hunger for success, I have no doubt that Honda will provide a formula for prosperity. If Fernando Alonso is behind the wheel, at least McLaren will know that the maximum is being extracted from their package relentlessly, weekend after weekend. The question remains, when will Alonso officially announce his plans for the future and have we been led down the garden path in regards to his 2015 destination?