Formula 1

Fernando Alonso will not be leaving McLaren for Mercedes

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Fernando Alonso will not be leaving McLaren despite their difficult start to the season, according to CEO Ron Dennis.

Alonso and Jenson Button have yet to score points in the first four races of the campaign as McLaren have struggled with their renewed partnership with Honda.

However, Alonso remains optimistic that McLaren will be able to rediscover their performance, beginning at his home Grand Prix in Spain next month.

There have been suggestions that Alonso would leave McLaren at the end of the year and aim to join Mercedes, while there have also been rumours of the double World Champion only staying for two years rather than the three that has been agreed in his contract.

Dennis, however, has quashed those rumours, and says Alonso is committed to the long-term project of McLaren and Honda and has no intentions of leaving the Woking outfit.

Dennis: He has a three-year contract

"He has a straight three-year contract with us, with no options. It’s as simple as that," Dennis told the official Formula One website. "That’s what we wanted to offer him, and that’s what he wanted to sign. I can’t make it plainer than that, can I?"

Like Alonso, Dennis also believes that McLaren will return to winning ways, and says he has the right driver to lead the team to future success.

"Fernando is a winner, and that’s why we hired him. McLaren is a winner, as is Honda, as is McLaren-Honda specifically, and that’s why he joined us," Dennis added. "We’re still off the pace, although we’re making good progress towards our eventual destination, which is the front of the grid. Fernando knows that. He’s won two world championships in the past, and he joined Ferrari with the ambition of returning that famous name to world championship glory.

"Don’t forget: we last won the world championship in 2008, but Ferrari’s world championship drought is longer still. Fernando won Grands Prix for Ferrari in the five years he drove for them, between 2010 and 2014, but he didn’t quite manage to lift the world championship crown during that period.

"That’s a regret for him, as he freely admits. But during that time he established himself as, to use your words, the best driver on the grid, and, when he decided he wanted to seek pastures new, he chose McLaren-Honda. We were delighted with that, for he was our first choice too."

Alonso's second McLaren spell

This is Alonso's second stint at McLaren after leaving the team in acrimonious fashion in 2007, where he signed a three-year deal but left after only one year due to a relationship breakdown with Dennis.

Both Alonso and Dennis have put the incidents of 2007 behind them, and the latter insists it is all 'ancient history'.

"People tend to talk a lot of nonsense about the McLaren-Alonso relationship. Okay, 2007 was a stressful year, even though we won eight races and scored more world championship points than any other team that season. But that’s ancient history now," Dennis said.

"We’ve all moved on - and by ‘we’ I mean McLaren, Ferrari and indeed the FIA. And the Fernando we’re working with today, now, is a fantastically motivated and inspirational man.

"He’s as quick as ever, as competitive as ever, more experienced than ever, more expert than ever, and he combines those traits with an infectious energy and enthusiasm. Ask anyone in our team - mechanics, engineers, marketing people, PR people, cooks, waiters, cleaners, whomever you like - and they’ll all say the same.

"And, as I’ve said throughout this interview, we’ll win again, we’ll dominate again, and we’ll do that together, with Fernando front and central. It’ll be a wonderful culmination to his glittering career, and all at McLaren and all at Honda are utterly dedicated to the task of working with him, with Jenson and with everyone else, to help him achieve it."

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