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By Andrew Benson
Chief F1 writer at Monza
Fernando Alonso always seemed to get a fantastic narrative following him about when he was in Formula 1, and it’s not any different at Monza this weekend on his first visit straight back.
The tenth world winner, who abandoned F1 at the end of last year, is at the Grand Prix in his role as a McLaren ambassador. But there are concerns regarding whether he may go back to the game, not least because Alonso himself has maintained the door open on the idea.
And has assured the issue has remained very much alive.
In among the three groups, there are question marks one of the motorists, and Alonso provides a theoretical solution which, if competitiveness was the only element in the decision, could be attractive.
His administration or alonso have contacted both groups lately to enquire about possible chairs , mature characters have told BBC Sport, but have been rebuffed.
This author and alonso had a lengthy – and personal – chat from the McLaren motorhome. I got nowhere , as anticipated, and prodded him about the Notion of an reunite to Ferrari and Red Bull. We spoke in length of his preparations for the Dakar Rally, and chatted concerning the Indianapolis 500, F1 and his potential.
That afternoon, I was back in McLaren speaking to chief executive officer Zak Brown.
A packet of sugar landed about the coffee cup’s saucer I drank, and then Alonso walked smile on his face.
How did you do so, I asked?
He’d been into the Ferrari motorhome, ” he said, for a conversation with their communications main Silvia Hoffer Frangipane. She is now a business friend and spent in McLaren chaperoning Alonso.
“I proceeded to see Silvia only to say hello,” Alonso said, grinning,”and I thought the story may be developed a little more now in your hands…”
Alonso hasn’t lost any of their mischievous sense of humour, although his likelihood of a recurrence to F1 may look slim. Nor his capacity to keep himself.
Alonso has been discussed because of the driver scenarios in Ferrari and Red Bull.
Red Bull have dropped Pierre Gasly back to Toro Rosso after a disappointing first portion of the season, and his substitute Alexander Albon has made a good start but is still very early to the nine races which the team say will choose whether he keeps the drive for 2020.
At Ferrari both drivers are under contract for next year, but everyone understands that in F1 which is not always an impediment that is unresolvable, and Sebastian Vettel’s form is raising doubts about his future.
Team-mate Charles Leclerc has now out-qualified seven days in a row the German. Leclerc appears to be emerging as the de facto lead driver of the team, simply if a couple have experienced extenuating circumstances, such as in Monza on Saturday. Along with also the 21-year-old is undoubtedly being marked out as the long term future of the team.
Vettel is a proud man and the question is, just how long can he put up with this situation, and when he wishes to block the obvious damage to his standing, what can he do about it?
On the album, Vettel continues to insist he would like to remain at Ferrari and satisfy his dream of winning the world title with the team.
But for a while now in F1 there were whispers that the union between Vettel and Ferrari isn’t exactly what it was, he might be interested in a go away, and that his preferred destination could be Red Bull, at which he achieved the huge majority of his success.
And that are a replacement for Vettel at Ferrari who might provide similar or stronger performance? Well, a Spaniard, of course.
It needs to be said that both teams deny any of this may happen.
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner said in the Belgian Grand Prix final weekend that Vettel had been”not available next year”.
Pressed on how he knew, he explained:”I know. He’s a Ferrari driver. He is contracted to the end of 2020.”
It was pointed out to Horner when he ended up joining Ferrari which Vettel was also under contract to Red Bull for 2015. He shrugged.
This is a different circumstance. Vettel had what is known as a performance clause in his contract, which allowed him to leave if he had been by a particular stage in this season under a specific championship place. In Ferrari, insiders say, that is not the case; it’s a contract with no escape clauses.
Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto stated on Friday in Monza:”I have said it and I am confirming it again – for second year Sebastian and Charles are all our motorists and there is no doubt at all about that”
There are a range of reasons why Vettel to Alonso and Red Bull to Ferrari seem unlikely to take place.
As one senior figure said, he’s already finding Leclerc a difficult competition, so why on earth would confront a situation that is as hard and maybe more so against Max Verstappen and he want to go to Red Bull?
Then there are the expenses involved of having to pay two superstar salaries with Red Bull. Along with the issues of managing two bulls in 1 field.
As Alonso’s opportunities at both team, Red Bull are from this question even if they wanted him, due to Honda.
After their fractious time together at McLaren, the manufacturer blocked Alonso from forcing an Indycar in it, are hardly likely to cheer him to a car fitted with one.
It is apparent that they see Leclerc as their future for years to come. By going back to Alonso risk destabilising that?
Few could doubt that he offer race-winning performance to them, and will be swift. However, his time with the team did not end favorably five decades ago.
When the relationship fell apart even though he wasn’t directly involved with tackling Alonso binotto was there. Can he wish to bring where tension and pressure run by its own nature Alonso can call back into a team?
Meanwhile, Alonso was conspicuous by his absence from the party of 90 decades of the Grand Prix in Milan on Wednesday, attended by a profusion of ex-Ferrari drivers. Explanations as to why he was not there differed depending .
Alonso is about his aims. “We will see,” was all he would say to BBC Sport when asked regarding any potential F1 yield.
Though this has not been officially announced, he has been performing desert testing and can be set to do the Dakar Rally in one in the new year. And he is still quite eager to win the Indianapolis 500 and eventually become the sole driver besides Graham Hill to finish motorsport’s unofficial’triple crown’.
But he is not presumed to be keen on a Indycar program.
The obvious solution would be to do a deal for a fourth vehicle to run for Alonso in Indy next year with all the top Penske group, who won the race with Simon Pagenaud this year.
However, Alonso may choose to keep his connections to McLaren, and the possibility of the brand new Indycar staff conducting a third car to him in the Brickyard is extremely much still available, regardless of the awkward set of conditions that led to those failing to qualify for the race that season.
Alonso is not exactly enthused by the idea of a F1 calendar.
And in the start of this 2021 year, when new regulations have been introduced in the hope of shutting up the area, Alonso will soon be final on his 40th birthday.
On its surface, afterward, an F1 reunite next year – or after – looks highly improbable. But in F1, you never know what could be around the corner.
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Analysis and comment from the main Formula 1 author of the BBC.
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