Eric Boullier concedes Fernando Alonso will base his decision regarding 2018 on whether or not this year’s MCL32 is a competitive car or not.
At present McLaren appear to be facing a difficult 2017 campaign.
Their Honda-powered MCL was woefully off the pace in pre-season testing with the power unit proving to be unreliable.
And, unless McLaren get it right, Boullier admits it could be what determines Alonso’s future with the team.
“There are always a lot of stories about this,” the McLaren Racing Director told Spanish newspaper AS.
“I think Fernando is being honest with us, just as we’re being honest with him.
“He first wanted to see how the new car was, how the new regulations are. I think he likes the new Formula 1.
“He wants to be competitive because he has talent to show the world and to himself, and we need to be competitive to keep him happy.
“If we’re competitive he’ll be happy and if not he’ll take his own decisions…”
The Frenchman was full of praise for the driver, who he believes is the “best” of the current drivers.
He added: “I don’t want to give you too much information, because I know a lot of teams want that information, but he’s the best, without a doubt.
“He’s the best because he is, clearly, but over and above that, it can be shown.”
As for talks about 2018, Boullier said: “It’s still early days, but of course we’ve spoken.”