What Will Fernando Do Next?

Saturday 09-August-2014 19:53

This week PlanetF1 reported that Fernando Alonso has taken to social media to deny speculation about his future. Given the important decision he's got to make, it's not surprising that people are speculating.

Alonso: A thing that's not true...

Although Fernando is contracted to Ferrari next year, it's widely believed there are break clauses in his contract, most likely related to the performance of the team in the Contsructors' Championship. Having spent two years back at Renault in 2008 and 2009 kicking his heels, he's unlikely to have made that mistake again.

The galling fact staring him in the face is that he is a two-times World Champion, while further up the pitlane Sebastian Vettel is a four-times World Champion, yet the four-time World Champion is regularly getting spanked by his team-mate in 2014.

There are few in F1 who think that the talent gradient is Alonso 2, Vettel 4. And Alonso should really have been World Champion in 2007 for McLaren. Had the FIA race stewards not intervened beyond their remit and demoted him down the order in qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix, then he would have been World Champion that year.

That weekend, when the big Alonso vs McLaren/Ron Dennis argument blew up there were photos of Fernando and his manager talking alternative plans with Christian Horner. If only he had the gift of foresight then and jumped ship to the yet-to-be-successful Red Bull team. Instead he went with the known quantity of the Renault team.

Now, he is facing the same dilemma. Where does he go next? Given the fact that he has enough money to do what he likes in this world he can opt for the Senna route, and go for the fastest car, not the highest pay packet.

Could he go to Mercedes? Nico Rosberg is signed for the foreseeable future, but Lewis Hamilton has still some negotiation to do. Given that Petronas will be very happy with their title sponsorship and that the car is a silver arrows, it's hard to see any red Banco Santander logos creeping onto the car any time soon. And the UK is a much bigger market for Mercedes than Spain.

What about staying where he is? Ferrari have had a bad year, only made better by Alonso's dragging the F14T into contention. If you take away Alonso's points and just double Kimi Raikkonen's results then Ferrari would be in P6 behind Force India and McLaren.

The team have sacked their engine chief Luca Marmorini and Marco Mattiacci is fresh in the job never having worked in F1 before. It hardly inspires confidence. The Scuderia tried to lure Adrian Newey to Maranello, then when he wouldn't take up the offer, fiercely denied it. Their one shining hope is the expertise of James Allison who worked wonders for Lotus.

F1 teams are big beasts to try and turn round as evidenced by Eric Boullier's singular failure to do anything with McLaren, despite the team having the massive advantage of a Mercedes engine. While Williams have vaulted over the Woking team, the men in grey are still trying to fight off their poor technical relations, Force India.

Honda could tip the balance in 2015 for McLaren, but few engine manufacturers arrive in the sport with a fully-formed and tested engine ready to go. When they line up alongside Mercedes cars next year, the Merc teams will have had 152 grands prix under their belt for their hybrid power unit, plus the testing sessions.

Should Mclaren decided to elbow Jenson Button aside in 2015 to make way for Alonso, it's unlikely the target will be anything more than a race win for next season. McLaren-Honda are not going to be in serious contention until 2016 at the earliest. And that's assuming that Dennis and Alonso can make up after the 2007 argument.

The other possibility is Red Bull. How long does a four-times World Champion like Sebastian Vettel want to sit around getting his arse kicked by Daniel Ricciardo? Adrian Newey is taking a more hands off approach, the team have lost quite a few top-end technical staff, might this be the time to move on for Seb? Although you can see the curve ahead, it's unlikely he's going to be jumping ship before the end of the year.

On the face of it, Fernando is stuck in a cul-de-sac. The two top teams are unlikely to have vacancies, the team he's currently with might be going down, not up, and the biggest opportunity represents a gamble and requires making up with a man who's not been on his Christmas card list for some time.

So no surprise the rumours are doing the rounds - such as 'Fernando is demanding $50m to stay at Ferrari'. As Alonso himself has tweeted "A thing that's not true, even if it is copied a thousand times, will remain false. Always helpful to remember this..."

The longer that McLaren delay their confirmation of Jenson Button for 2015, and Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton, the longer these rumours will be going on. Don't expect that to be Fernando's last tweet on the subject.


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