Formula 1

Fernando Alonso seems certain to join McLaren

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Fernando Alonso is set to be a McLaren driver in 2015 according to various media reports.

Over the weekend in Brazil, sources revealed the Spaniard has signed the largest contract in Formula 1 history to return to the team he left in tumultuous circumstances in 2007 after five disappointing seasons with Ferrari.

Now Britain's Autosport is also confirming the switch but claimed the decision over who would partner the 33-year-old is holding up an official announcement.

"The closeness of their performances this year has left the team unable to come to a swift conclusion about who should line up alongside Alonso," the report claimed.

Magnussen vs Button

Indeed the two drivers may be far apart in terms of points but each other's performances have been fairly consistent.

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Jenson Button, many people's tip to be the man replaced by Fernando Alonso, has nearly double the number of points as his team-mate Kevin Magnussen with the Briton on 106 points compared to the Dane's 55, and has an impressive end to the season with three top five finishes in the last four races with only a poor strategy call costing him points in Austin.

For Magnussen, however, the 22-year-old has matched Button's tally of 12 point finishes in his debut season but only one top five since he inherited second place following Daniel Ricciardo's disqualification in Australia compared to the 2009 champion's five over the same period explains much of the 51-point gap.

Other considerations

There seems to be a few things in Magnussen's favour, however, as McLaren consider who should partner the great Alonso.

Such is the colossal amount offered to the Spaniard to lure him away from Ferrari, the question over whether McLaren and their new engine supplier Honda can afford another driver likely earning $20 million plus in Button, particularly given the current money woes in F1, in uncertain.

If not then the cheaper Magnussen is the most likely option, also, it seems the Woking team wants to have a younger driver alongside their new talisman and after a consistent yet unspectacular first season, do the see enough future potential in the former Renault 3.5 champion to retain him for a second year?

That's not to say Button doesn't have his advantages over his team-mate. The 34-year-old has plenty of experience and much of that with Honda therefore the familiarity with the Japanese car maker may benefit the newly reformed partnership.

Also it seems he is Fernando Alonso's personal choice as team-mate, while the Spaniard refuses to be drawn over his future, Autosport claims he would like to see Button remain to help quicken the pace of McLaren's push to return to the front of the grid.

Looking further afield

But what about outside the triangle seemingly in contention for the two seats in the MP4-30's next year?

I've made no secret that Romain Grosjean would be my choice for McLaren. The Frenchman seemingly works best under the guidance of Eric Boullier, now Sporting Director at McLaren, and despite a switch to Mercedes engines next year, does Grosjean still want to remain a part of the Lotus team that has underperformed so massively in 2014?

Another Frenchman, Jean-Eric Vergne would be a very surprising choice, but the Toro Rosso driver's future is uncertain after being snubbed to replace the Ferrari-bound Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen coming in to the junior Red Bull team next year.

There is no doubt Vergne has the talent as a racer but has he done enough to attract the attention of a top team like McLaren? I'm not so sure.

Head over heart in crucial decision

Either way it is a massively important decision for the McLaren- Honda project. Fernando Alonso's arrival seems to be a case of finding a big name driver to match the McLaren- Honda reputation and his stay could be no more than a year or two.

In keeping Jenson Button, McLaren would have the most experienced line-up possible with both men entering Formula 1 within a year of each other but would also face a high salary bill and the likelihood of needing two fresh drivers in a short period of time.

While retaining Magnussen not only helps the Dane learn from one of the best of this generation, it also gives the McLaren- Honda partnership a man for the long-term like Red Bull now have with Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat.

There are so many pros and so many cons but when the decision is finally made I think the head must come over the heart which for me spells the end of a great 15-year career and the continuation of one just starting out. 

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