Fernando Alonso has threatened to quit McLaren if it cannot return to race-winning competitiveness and that he would leave Formula 1 entirely if the calendar expanded to 25 races a season.
Speaking at the Canadian Grand Prix’s FIA Press Conference on Thursday, the Spaniard expressed his resistance to the reported aims of the sport’s new owners, Liberty Media, to expand the season beyond its current 20-race limit.
“I started when the calendar was 16 races, plus the tests, and now we keep on increasing the races year after year and I think we are in a number that is quite demanding already,” Alonso said.
“Between the preparation, the sponsor events, the tests, the commitments you have plus 20-21 races, I think is already enough.”
Next year’s calendar will expand to 21 races with the return of both the French and German Grands Prix – offset by the departure of the race in Malaysia – while Portugal and Turkey are among a number of former host nations keen to return to the schedule.
Liberty Media has also indicated they are keen to hold more races in their native USA, with New York, Las Vegas and Miami all reportedly under consideration.
Ross Brawn, F1’s Managing Director of Motorsports, believes a 25 race calendar is feasible – a view now shared by Alonso.
“If there are 25 or 26 races or whatever, I think it’s good in one aspect but in other aspects, in how demanding becomes your life, at this point of my career, I consider that a good quality of life is more important than to do more seasons in F1,” he explained.
The 35-year-old is back in the Paddock after competing in the Indianapolis 500 and stated his intention is to stay with the sport in which he’s spent the last 16 years.
“In F1, the third World Championship is still my biggest priority,” he said. “I developed my skills to drive F1 cars for 16 years so it is the best car I can drive.”
But it is unlikely it will be with McLaren Honda, the team he joined in 2015 when the Woking outfit reforged their partnership with the Japanese engine supplier.
Tensions are at breaking point due to the constant lack of performance and reliability of the Honda engine and the Spaniard, who is out of contract at the end of the year, stated he will leave unless they miraculously start showing signs of competitiveness.
“We have to win,” he said. “If we are winning before September, when I will make a decision, I will stay.”
When suggested that is highly unlikely, he added: “I joined this project to win the title. If you are not in a competitive position, maybe you change project.”
McLaren-Honda have failed to score a point this year and suffered an embarrassing double-DNF at the preceding Monaco Grand Prix, a race considered the team’s most likely shot at finishing in the points.
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