Lewis Hamilton says regardless of what Fernando Alonso decides to do for 2018 he would like to see the two-time Formula 1 world champion return to the fight at the front.
Lewis Hamilton hopes Fernando Alonso and McLaren are on course to re-join F1’s front-runners in 2018 ahead of the expected announcement that his former team are dropping Honda for Renault power.
The Mercedes driver was quizzed whether he missed battling with his former team-mate at the sharp-end of the F1 grid which provided some classic encounters during the early stages of Hamilton’s career, while things boiled over in Hungary in 2007 as McLaren team-mates, and the British driver felt ‘the best drivers in the best teams’ need to be scrapping at the front.
McLaren is expected to announce its split from Honda after three frustrating years of unreliable and underpowered engines in order to switch to Renault power from 2018 as it aims to return to fighting for wins and podiums.
As F1 waits on confirmation in Singapore that McLaren are ending their torrid Honda partnership, Hamilton says F1 will be the winner if Alonso, who is expected to stay on at Woking, has a more competitive car-engine package next season.
Alonso’s future in F1 and at McLaren is far from sealed but speculation in the paddock points towards the Spanish driver signing a new one-year deal to stay at the Woking-based team, in order to keep his options open for 2019, with his hopes of competing for an F1 world title.
Hamilton feels it would aid F1 if Alonso and McLaren returned to the front of the grid and challenge the likes of Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull.
“I hope that he’s got a car to fight with us next year,” said Hamilton, while sitting alongside his former team-mate in the Singapore GP Drivers’ Press Conference.
“That only adds to the spectacle and challenge. We want to see the best drivers and the best teams up there and it’s been a shame not to have McLaren where they historically have been.
“Whether it’s with McLaren or whatever Fernando happens to be next year, I hope he has the chance to be fighting with us.”
Since Hamilton quit McLaren for Mercedes and sustained race-winning success nearly five years ago, McLaren have failed to win a race and finished on the podium just once in the 91 grands prix since. This year, they are on course to finish a lowly ninth in the Constructors’ Championship for the second time in the three years of their Honda partnership
Alonso skipped this year’s Monaco GP to compete at Indianapolis, where he was in victory contention until retiring late into the race, but has all-but ruled out missing F1’s showpiece again next May if he is in competitive machinery. Monaco and the Indy 500 again clash next year.
“The Triple Crown is a clear target for me in the future and there are three races there,” he said.
“If one of those, the Indy 500, is together with Monaco, as we know, there is another one to complete. But I agree with what Zak [Brown] said, if I remain in F1 it’s because I believe I can win next year and so that will make the decision easier because I will be in Monaco and I won’t want to lose any points there. The priority is F1 and winning here.”
However, the 2018 edition of the Le Mans 24 Hours takes place on the weekend between the Canadian and French GPs and Alonso cryptically added: “The Triple Crown is in the background, not only Indy. There are many possibilities to do a fantastic 2018.”