Fernando Alonso admits that struggling McLaren are looking for a miracle. The team have scored only 17 points in 12 races, with their drivers more concerned about finishing than looking for a podium place.
They are ninth out of 10 in the championship – they were fifth last year – ahead of only Manor Marussia going into Sunday’s Singapore Grand Prix, as Honda have failed miserably to come up with a competitive engine.
“Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg have another opportunity to fight for the world championship, and the rest of us are trying to find the miracles,” said Alonso on Thursday “That miracle hopefully will come.”
McLaren have been without a title sponsor since 2013 and are expected to lose more sponsors at the end of the season. They are unlikely to revive their fortunes in the campaign’s final seven races. When Alonso, 34, was asked how long he could wait, he joked: “I’m still younger than Jenson [Button] so I’ll wait for his moves before taking my decisions.”
More seriously he added: “I rely on the team. I try to ask and be informed about the steps that we are putting in place. Everything seems logical and going in the right direction. I think things will change a lot for next year.”
Alonso joined McLaren this year after five frustrating seasons at Ferrari, as he attempted to add to the two world championships he won with Renault, in 2005 and 2006. But he said: “It’s never a wasted time, even with Ferrari. We didn’t have a competitive car for those five years but they were very good for my experience and my career and I enjoyed my time. Great memories.”
He added: “The situation with the performance this year is lower than the expectations of this time last year. The results have been tough. But to work on a project like this, a really nice project, starting from zero, is quite exciting for us drivers. I still believe I am in the right place in the future.”
Button says a decision on his McLaren future will be made in a couple of weeks – which is what he said in Italy a fortnight ago. But he added that he would not drive for another team in F1.
“If I’m in F1, it will be with this team,” he said. “I have had some tough times here but I have a lot of respect for them and for Honda. This is the team for the future.”
McLaren’s racing director, Éric Boullier, has said McLaren intend to take up their option on retaining Button but that the decision will be made by Ron Dennis, the group’s chief executive and chairman.
Button said: “Nothing is decided yet. Money will not come into it. It will be whether I think it’s the right thing to do. It’s definitely not like last year [when an indecisive Dennis kept him hanging on for a new deal]. As a team we want to get everything cleared up sooner rather than later.
“I’m very lucky to be in the position I am at 35 years old. That’s the way you’ve got to look at it. There are so many opportunities in the future for me that are exciting.” He denied that this was his worst year in F1.
“My worst year was in 2001 when I didn’t perform very well. We haven’t done a very good job at all [as a team]. But for me, personally, it’s not a bad year at all.”
This article was written by Paul Weaver in Singapore, for theguardian.com on Thursday 17th September 2015 22.00 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010