Could Alonso replace Ricciardo at McLaren? It has been known for weeks, and even for a few months now, shortly after the start of “El Plan”, that Fernando Alonso is not happy at Alpine, as the Spaniard believes that with this car he cannot win races or become F1 world champion again, his main objective, in the short term.
Furthermore, at Alpine, although they are happy with Alonso, they do not see the Spaniard as essential to their project in 2023, since as many know, Alpine’s objective is that whatever happens, Oscar Piastri will drive one of the French team’s cars. Therefore, if Alonso leaves the French team, they will not put any obstacles in his way, as they would already have their team for 2023, Ocon and Piastri.
If Fernando leaves Alpine, which team would he go to, knowing that this will not be his last season in F1? There are several openings in several teams that should be ruled out, such as Haas and Williams, as these teams are far from guaranteeing wins and podiums in the near future, as they are currently at the bottom of any potential list. In addition, it must be said that both of these teams have financial problems, so developing a championship car, with very little resources, is mission impossible.
The Red Bull option was closed a few days ago with the renewal of Sergio Pérez until 2024. Also, Alonso would certainly not be happy to have Max Verstappen as a teammate, because surely, with Max’s position in the Red Bull team, he would probably always find himself behind the Dutchman at the beginning, something he doesn’t want at all, as he is looking for a teammate he can beat in the first few races. Alpha Tauri would be ruled out because Fernando would not want to be part of a subsidiary team.
Aston Martin would be an obvious no. The team is in the middle of a huge development phase and questions are being asked as to how well the team is transitioning, plus they are one of the slowest cars on the grid. Further, he wouldn’t like to be controlled by Lawrence Stroll and play second fiddle to his son Lance.
Alfa Romeo, which doesn’t have a car that can win because it’s almost a Ferrari ‘B’ wouldn’t be an option, or Mercedes, where a priority is to close all the doors to the Spaniard and possibly sell its team, so what option is left? Fernando has only one door open, and that is McLaren.
McLaren has had a lot of problems in recent weeks, with one driver, in particular, Daniel Ricciardo. The Australian, who was brought in to replace Carlos Sainz, is struggling to adapt to the car, and already team boss Zak Brown is getting impatient, as his comments after the Spanish GP show:
“We’re trying to do everything we can, but again, it was a disappointing weekend. With the exception of Monza and a few other races, the whole thing didn’t live up to their expectations and ours.”
Add to these statements Zak Brown’s own assertion that there is a breach of contract clause if the Australian does not meet his targets, and it looks like Alonso could be wearing the papaya colour in 2023, with Lando Norris as his teammate.
The relationship between McLaren and Alonso is very good, despite his departure a few years ago, and the Woking team could opt for the Spaniard rather than another driver.
Will Fernando drive for McLaren, will he stay with Alpine for several more years, and could he leave F1 if he doesn’t find a team? These questions, though they may seem remote, will soon be answered.