Fernando Alonso - stuck in a state of status quo?

Fernando Alonso

Fernando Alonso seems to be mired in the Formula One equivalent of Groundhog Day.

"We are not happy with the performance we showed today, we need to improve. There are some positive and negative things, and we must try to improve the negative.

"I think we did a solid race with what we have in our hands at the moment and we need to keep on scoring points until we are a bit faster."

Those were Alonso's words after the Australian Grand Prix back in March. Sound familiar? That's because it's pretty much been exactly the same speech after most races over the last 18 months.

Regulation changes can bring upheaval to a Formula One grid. We, as fans, know this first hand having seen the success story Brawn had only five short years ago. You either win or lose when it comes to understanding change - yet Ferrari have managed the improbable: they've stayed exactly where they are.

How many races have we seen Fernando, fresh from the cockpit wiping his sweaty fringe from his eyes, stuffing his balaclava into his crash helmet, shooting an envious look at a Red Bull in Parc Ferme? How many interviews have followed the same spiel of "we're good, but not good enough"? And just how many mercurial starts, stints, overtakes and overall performances does Alonso have left in the tank?

The Spaniard joined the Scuderia to be the best in the world, to have the might of a manufacturer behind him again after his two titles with Renault. To an extent they have been the catalyst behind him staying within touching distance of snatching a third crown from the grasp of Sebastian Vettel twice in the last three seasons. You can't fault them for that, at least.

But there's always a sense in interviews that Fernando wants more from his team. That he's desperate for a car that will allow him to dominate a season, like Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna at McLaren in the '80s, Nigel Mansell with Williams in the '90s, and Michael Schumacher with Ferrari in the '00s. He craves that domination, as he feels like it would cement his legacy in the sport.

Ferrari want the same too, but on their terms. No driver is bigger than the Prancing Horse, and if you're critical of the team then you better have another job somewhere else lined up. Prost was quoted in 1991 as describing his Ferrari car as driving "like a truck", and was promptly shown the door at Maranello.

Was the signing of Kimi Raikkonen to the team cover for a potential departure for Fernando? It certainly felt that way, seeing as it came after the rumoured meeting of the Spaniard's agent and Red Bull representatives. Alonso could have been on his way out, and Ferrari had to act. Never mind the "dream team" connotations - Ferrari cries out for a top driver, and arguably there's only a few that could, would and should take that seat for the Prancing Horse.

And as the months tick by, Fernando will see his options for the future slowly close. In reality, he has only four teams to choose from: Mercedes, who have already confirmed Nico Rosberg and are close to doing the same with Lewis Hamilton; Red Bull, who have a history of using younger talent and an aversion to signing World Champions; and McLaren, who would require a substantial offer, backed by Honda, to get Alonso and Ron Dennis to overcome the disastrous way their relationship finished in 2007.

The fourth, and most likely, would be biting the bullet and staying at Ferrari. And unless things change for the better, he could be in for more of the same.