SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, Belgium, Aug 26 – Fernando Alonso will not make a decision on his future with McLaren Honda until he has tested a 2017 car to see if he can rekindle his enthusiasm for Formula One.
The frustrated two-time champion Spaniard, who looks set for a massive grid penalty after being forced to take a new power unit at the Belgian Grand Prix, reiterated his views ahead of the race and received strong support from defending three-time champion Lewis Hamilton.
Alonso, who won the title in 2005 and 2006, told reporters that he needed to rediscover his joy for racing F1 cars if he is to stay in the sport beyond 2017, saying that the current cars are “not very fast and not very much fun to drive anymore.”
Hamilton said he felt, like Alonso, that the prospects of a more exciting future with the likely 2017 rule changes were uncertain.
“I think in the last couple of years, in this turbo era, the cars are different to drive. I don’t say better or worse. Everyone can have an opinion,” said Alonso, 35.
“But I was lucky to drive the 2004-2005 car, and even in 2009, they were more extreme F1 cars. When I see a GP2 car is three seconds slower than FP1, I feel a bit sad.
“The cars are heavy, no grip, we save fuel, save tyres, save everything from lap one. So it is against the instinct of drivers.
“Next year is a question mark and next year, if the cars are fun to drive and exciting to drive, I will probably stay longer and drive more years in F1.
“But if the cars still give me the feeling of the last few years, I will stop.”
Alonso’s views were supported by Hamilton.
“In terms of the rules, the cars are going to be the same next year,” Hamilton said.
“It’s a different-looking car, the same issues are going to be the same and, as Fernando’s saying, we slow down as soon as we’ve done the start and got that out of the way.
“Generally we’re not pushing 100 per cent like they used to –- it was a more extreme race back in the day. It was a sprint.
“For us, all starting in go-karts, that’s what it was from the get-go, from the lights out it was a sprint race to the end. Formula One’s not about that anymore.
“We’ll drive the same next year, just with a heavier car, and having to save fuel, save tyres, do the same things.”
Mercedes driver Hamilton added: “Fernando is one of the best drivers we have here, but he’s had an incredibly challenging few years with an uncompetitive car — knowing in himself he could be fighting for a championship, if he sat alongside me.”