Fernando Alonso is closing in on a contract extension that will see him remain at McLaren next season and race under their new partnership with Renault, with an announcement expected to be made within the next two weeks.
The two-time world champion was left ruing an opportunity missed on Sunday after being taken out of the Singapore Grand Prix at the first corner as a result of the accident that was triggered by the Ferraris of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen and the Red Bull of Max Verstappen.
McLaren were hopeful that Alonso would be able to challenge for a podium finish in the wet conditions, with the Spaniard making a lightning start to reach the first corner in third position, but the damage sustained from his collision with Verstappen proved race-ending and he was forced to retire a handful of laps later.
The news in Singapore was not all bad for Alonso though as McLaren confirmed that they will end their partnership with Honda at the end of the season and embark on a new deal with Renault for a supply of engines that currently power the factory team as well as Red Bull and Toro Rosso – who will switch to Honda.
After confirming that he is nearing a decision on his own future, Alonso admitted that there were too many announcements in Singapore for him to make to speak publicly about his 2018 plans, though an announcement could come before the next grand prix in Malaysia on 1 October.
“I will be in the simulator [next week] and that will be a better time to discuss about the future and other things that are happening,” said Alonso.
“We need to put everything together.”
Despite the uncertainty, Alonso has made it clear that his priority is to remain in F1, although he could seek to race in the Indianapolis 500 once again as well as the Le Mans 24 Hours, which does not clash with the 2018 F1 calendar.
Alonso was an innocent party in the first-corner accident (Getty)
With the seats at Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull, Force India and now Renault confirmed for next season, Alonso’s options appear to be limited to a fourth consecutive season with McLaren or a move to Williams, who are yet to confirm either of their drivers.
With McLaren the most likely option, Alonso was asked what the deal with Renault would bring for the Woking-based team, and like he has done so throughout the season on the team radio, he did not attempt to hide is true feelings.
“Normality! But I think it is just looking too much ahead, because I don’t know…