Austin: Two-time world champion Fernando Alonso on Thursday signed a new one-year contract with McLaren in a boost for the struggling Formula One team.
"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," the Spaniard announced in a team statement.
By penning a deal for the 2018 season Alonso is pinning his hopes on the famous British marque regaining its winning tradition as they switch from the under-performing Honda power unit to Renault engines.
"McLaren has the technical resource and financial strength to be able to very quickly win races and world championships in F1," the 36-year-old said.
"Although the last few years have not been easy, we have never forgotten how to win, and I believe we can achieve that again soon," he added.
Alonso, who has dabbled in IndyCar, has chosen to stick with the team he joined three years ago rather than accept offers from both inside and outside F1.
He has a long-term goal of becoming only the second driver to complete the Triple Crown — winning the Monaco Grand Prix, Le Mans and the Indy500.
Speaking later on Thursday at Austin's Circuit of the Americas, he revealed his deal contained options for beyond 2018.
"We never discuss the contract clauses and we are not going to do it now, but it's a long-term contract and we'll see how things go," Alonso said.
"I'm very excited for next year, with different expectations and keen to put McLaren back where it deserves to be. I want Australia (opening race of 2018) to arrive already."
He welcomed McLaren’s decision to switch engine suppliers from Honda, after three disappointing years, to Renault, whose team carried him to his titles in 2005 and 2006.
"It's very exciting," added the Spaniard whose best placing this season was a sixth in Hungary.
"Driving again for Renault, even though it's just the engine, is a good feeling. Red Bull has been showing it this year, with two cars on the podium in Japan, both cars on the podium in Malaysia — so we know what the Renault engine is capable of.
"Now we have to step up and make it happen."
McLaren, who have not won a race since 2012 when Jenson Button triumphed in Brazil, were thrilled at their star driver's vote of confidence.
"With Fernando, there is no doubt that we have a driver who can help us achieve our goal of winning again in F1 – and, believe me, we are all keen to do that," said McLaren executive director Zak Brown.
The team's racing director Eric Boullier added: "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 season."
Alonso will once again be teamed up with Belgian Stoffel Vandoorne in 2018.
"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," commented Boullier.
Ahead of Sunday's United States Grand Prix in Austin, Alonso is 16th in the driver's standings after mustering just 10 points, three fewer than Vandoorne.
Published Date: Oct 20, 2017 04:58 pm | Updated Date: Oct 20, 2017 04:59 pm