To take a sabbatical or not to take a sabbatical that is the question for Fernando Alonso.
After a tiresome time of finishing runner-up – or thereabouts – at Ferrari, Alonso left the Scuderia at the end of 2014 to join McLaren-Honda – and run at the back of the field.
Granted while everyone knew it would be a challenge and a season of learning, no one – not least Alonso – believed it would be as bad as it has been.
27 points from 18 races and with just one to go McLaren look set to finish P9 in the championship, their worst Formula 1 season since 1980. This was not what Alonso signed up for and as such his future has again become a hot topic.
Earlier this season there were reports that he could quit McLaren at the end of the year. But following the Japanese GP where he opening criticised Honda’s “GP2 engine” he denied wanting out.
He took to Twitter saying: “No one should have any doubt that I have 3 years with McLaren and my career in F1 will end with this team, hopefully winning everything.”
But weeks later Alonso’s commitment to McLaren-Honda is again in doubt and this time it is CEO Ron Dennis voicing it.
“I have an open mind to anything – and some of the ideas have involved those sorts of considerations, sabbatical years, etc,” Dennis said during the Abu Dhabi weekend.
“We have a great number of driver options and two of the best drivers in the world in our cars. When we have to take the decision we will take it together, at this moment of time our drivers for next year are Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button.”
Alonso, though, appears to have no clue what the CEO is on about.
“I will be [on the grid],” he stated. “I haven’t spoken to him [Dennis], so I don’t think that’s true. It’s always the same story. When Ron or another driver says something then I have to respond and guess what they meant to say.”
One says possible, the other says not at all, so will it happen?
There is no doubt about it Alonso is a competitive driver, he’s one who wants to be out front fighting for race wins and World titles. But, as demonstrated during his tenure at Ferrari, he’s is also one who is willing to do the drudge work to get there.
However already 34 years old the chances of Alonso taking a season off and wanting to come back -or even being fired up should he come back – are waning.
So expect a second season with McLaren but keep the sabbatical question in mind should 2016 failed to yield the gains both he and McLaren-Honda are chasing.