Does Fernando Alonso’s future lie away from Ferrari

Fernando Alonso

It is now one year since Fernando Alonso and Ferrari won their last race - and both parties would agree that this is simply not good enough.

It’s not good enough for a team who have a richer F1 heritage than any other, and it’s not good enough for a driver who is regarded as one of the best in the sport’s history.

Alonso finished sixth at last weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix having won the event 12 months ago. Worse still, he ended the race a full minute and 27 seconds behind the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. That’s basically a full lap.

"The race was difficult, the weekend has been difficult in general with a lack of grip and balance in the car; there were new parts on the car so we had a difficult weekend,” reflected a dejected Alonso afterwards.

"Unfortunately it's been a lot of time; we haven't been able to fight for wins in the last 12 months and we want to do better," he added. "It will probably not happen soon as we got lapped here, so when we arrive in Monaco we probably won't be in a position to win.”

Clearly not a man thrilled by his lot at the moment, Alonso also made it clear that he was concerned by the sheer size of the gap to the Mercedes cars.

"It's not the seventh place [in qualifying] or how far we are from the podium, it's that 1.8s [per lap] is a lot and we want to change this,” said Alonso.

"What we need to do is just work and deliver the results. There will be new parts in Canada, that's for sure, and we will bring some to Monaco and Silverstone, we brought parts here, we have six or seven, but it's difficult to make magic."

Alonso knows that, in truth, magic is impossible. What he needs is a car that can regularly compete with the Mercedes and Red Bulls, and Ferrari have proven consistently incapable of giving this to him since he joined the team in 2010. So could he be set to exit the Scuderia before his contract expires in 2016?

Recent rumours have linked Alonso to Mercedes, though these were based on little more than a throwaway comment made by their team boss, Toto Wolff. With Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg currently dominant in the Silver Arrows there is no reason to change.

Another potential destination is McLaren, who appeared to be making overtures to Alonso late last year. With Honda engines coming on board for 2015 they’ll hope to quickly become a force again, and could opt to replace Jenson Button with a more dynamic force.

But would this be a step up for Alonso? 2015 is likely to be a transition year for McLaren, meaning it will be 2016 - when the Spaniard turns 35 - before they can even hope to hit the front. Alonso needs a winning car now; his time is running out.

And the team may question whether a man who fell out with them so spectacularly in 2007 would be a good addition. The easy-going Button is popular at McLaren and still performing well. Why jeopardise that for a risky prodigal son reunion?

And Red Bull? Highly unlikely. New signing Daniel Ricciardo has performed above expectations this year, giving Sebastian Vettel a real run for his money, so there’s no reason to change unless Vettel quits the team. And that certainly isn’t on the cards.

So Alonso’s best hope still seems to be at Ferrari, if only because no other destination fits. Now entering his mid-thirties, the Spaniard’s powers behind the wheel are inevitably set to diminish over the next few seasons. Unless the Scuderia up their game, it seems increasingly unlikely that he will be able to add to the world titles he took in 2005 and ’06.