Zak Brown has revealed that Fernando Alonso would love the opportunity to remain in Formula 1 next season, while he himself would love to retain the partnership of the Spaniard and Stoffel Vandoorne within the McLaren Honda Formula 1 Team.
After talks with Alonso over the Silverstone weekend, Brown says the Spaniard enjoys the environment at McLaren, but acknowledges that he is eager to have a winning car in 2018, although there are unlikely to be any availability in the leading three teams of this season.
The Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team are likely to retain Valtteri Bottas alongside Lewis Hamilton, whilst Red Bull Racing have already made it clear that neither Daniel Ricciardo or Max Verstappen are leaving.
Scuderia Ferrari may have a vacancy, but the Italian outfit have ruled out a return to the team for Alonso, meaning the Spaniards options are limited, meaning an extended stay with McLaren is more likely.
“We had a great dinner with Fernando – he picked up the bill,” said Brown, jokingly at Silverstone. “We’ve got a good understanding with Fernando, he loves the environment [at McLaren].
“Stoffel [Vandoorne] is doing a good job given very difficult circumstances for a rookie, [so] I like where we are on the driver front and said we’d pick that up after the summer break.”
Whilst McLaren chief Brown acknowledges that Alonso did enjoy his outing in the Indianapolis 500 this year, he does not think the Spaniard is on the brink of switching to the Verizon IndyCar Series, although he does expect another attack on the Indy 500 in the future.
“I think he [Alonso] loved IndyCar, I think he definitely wants to go back and do the Indy 500 when the time is right,” said Brown.
“He’s made it very clear he wants to be in Formula 1 next year, so I think the chances of him being in IndyCar are highly unlikely; the chances of him being in IndyCar at some point are maybe as much as likely.”
One thing Brown is insistent on is the need of a competitive engine package for the team, and conversations are still ongoing with Honda about the issues that they have faced, with McLaren currently sitting bottom of the Constructors’ Championship at the halfway point of the season.
“We need a much more competitive engine,” insisted Brown. “The relationship with Honda has been and remains fine on a personal level, but as we’ve made it widely known we need a much more competitive power plant and that is the conversation we’re having.
“We’re continuing to have conversations with them in how we’re going to get ourselves more competitive next year.”