Alonso linked with McLaren exit – report

Lando Norris has been tipped to replace Fernando Alonso, who will reportedly leave McLaren at the end of the season.

According to Spanish publication Diario Gol, highly-rated Norris is in line to make the step up to Formula 1 as Alonso has 'grown increasingly frustrated' with McLaren's incapability of providing a car that can match the likes of Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull.

McLaren are believed to have further one-year options on both Alonso and his team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne, but Alonso is apparently ready for a new challenge elsewhere.

Mercedes and Ferrari could both have seats available at the end of the season with Valtteri Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen also out of contract, but it appears very unlikely either team will look to sign him and risk disrupting the team dynamics with Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel.

That may lead Alonso to continue racing in other disciplines away from Formula 1, something which he has stepped up this year with a full WEC season also on the agenda this year.

In reality, we look forward to Alonso being linked with every team under the sun before he signs a new extension with McLaren.

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Alonso ‘doesn’t care’ about Ferrari or Honda

Fernando Alonso has said he finds it "funny" to be asked about the performance of former partners when they do well in Formula 1 and doesn't "care about them".

Alonso had a messy break-up with Ferrari before returning to McLaren in 2015, where he endured three long years with engine manufacturer Honda.

The Spaniard found himself answering the same old questions when he was asked for his thoughts on Toro Rosso-Honda's P4 finish in Bahrain and finds the whole thing rather humourous.

"I've been answering about Ferrari in 2015 and 2016," Alonso told reporters in China.

"After I left Ferrari, every win, every podium they were achieving, you asked me about if I regretted when I left Ferrari.

"After four years Mercedes keep winning and they have four championships and now you are not asking me about Ferrari, you've changed for Toro Rosso.

"Or Renault, in 2005 and 2006 I won two championships with them and now they are competitive again.

"I don't care so much about other teams. It's just funny how people get excited about the ex-teams when they are OK.

"They ask me and I don't care too much."

On Toro Rosso-Honda's P4 in Bahrain, he did add: "[Bahrain] was a very nice weekend for them.

"To be honest, after 18 years in Formula 1, to answer after one good qualifying or one good result from any team makes no sense."

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Alonso admits Vettel tussle wasn’t ‘fair fight’

Fernando Alonso says his brief battle with Sebastian Vettel in China wasn’t a “fair fight” as the German’s Ferrari was damaged.

Alonso grabbed seventh place off Vettel on the penultimate lap of the Chinese Grand Prix, taking advantage of the Ferrari driver’s woes.

Vettel, who had at one stage been fighting for the win, was hit by Max Verstappen and was struggling with a damaged SF71H.

Alonso took advantage.

Speaking of his brief tussle with a member of his former team, he said: “It was good.

“Obviously it was not a fair fight because Sebastian had damage on his car and I was a little bit quicker on the corners,” said Alonso.

“I was surprised when I saw a Ferrari not going too fast at the end.

“I asked what was the problem and apparently he had damage on his car so he was struggling a little bit on the corners.

“He was running very wide in the corners so in the first opportunity I saw the door open and went for it and in the end at one point the track finished so he kept going until there was grass, so you need to back off at one point.”

As for Vettel, he wasn’t impressed with the way in which Alonso went about passing him.

“I was very vulnerable so he could have passed me another time,” he said.

“I think the way he dived in was now or never, and I obviously had to back off, otherwise we would have just crashed.”

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Alonso: McLaren ‘need to find more pace’

Fernando Alonso has said his P7 finish was a "great result" but conceded McLaren "need to find more pace" at the next race in Baku.

McLaren are struggling to be competitive in qualifying, but Alonso has been able to make amends in all three races so far to bring home points for the Woking team.

However, Alonso knows there is much more room from improvement.

"We need to find more pace for the next round,” Alonso told Sky Sports.

"It was a group race and yeah, we more or less take benefit from all of the battles so as I said, great result for Sunday but we cannot forget that the pace was not there all weekend so we need to keep improving.”

Alonso would have taken a lot of satisfaction from passing a wounded Sebastian Vettel late on in China and the Spaniard said he was surprised to see him there for the taking.

“It was a surprise definitely you know when I saw Ferrari going not too fast I asked what was the problem. Apparently he had damage on his car so he was struggling a little bit on the corners," Alonso added.

"We catch him and we saw the door open in one corner and we went for it and yeah, we make the pass.

"Obviously, there’s still some pace to find and we were not quick enough again in the race but at the same time I had a great result.

"I think P7 starting from P13 is good points for the team again so well executed race."

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Alonso in P13: ‘Points are still very possible’

Fernando Alonso is not too disheartened by his latest failure to reach Q3 with the MCL33 and thinks strategy could bring McLaren back into points places.

McLaren suffered a double knock-out in Q2 with Fernando Alonso's best time of 1:33.232 only good enough for P13 and Stoffel Vandoorne was three tenths behind in P14.

But being outside the top 10 gives McLaren free reign over their tyre selection heading into Sunday's race and Alonso thinks that will be crucial.

"It was not enough today. I'm quite happy still with the position, P11 in Australia, P13 in Bahrain and P13 again here," Alonso told Sky F1.

"Having the free choice of tyre tomorrow could be an advantage for us, especially if we don't use the ultrasofts as they may degrade a lot.

"Hopefully we can keep taking points on Sunday. The qualy pace is not good enough yet but we need to analyse why.

"The tyre degradation is going to be high tomorrow and it's supposed to be hotter and sunnier tomorrow. Choosing the right strategy, the right pit stop at the right time will make a huge difference.

"It's up to us and I think the points are still very possible.

"After three races we have identified some of our problems. We seem to be a little slow on the straights compared to our main competitors so I think there is potential to develop the car in that direction and gain some free lap time.

"Let's hope to see some results."

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Alonso plays down Mercedes, Ferrari talk

Fernando Alonso has declared McLaren as "the place to be" despite his manager Flavio Briatore saying he would like to see the Spaniard at Mercedes or Ferrari next season.

Not the first time, Briatore has expressed his desire to see Alonso move to one of the top teams again before his Formula 1 season is over.

But Alonso has dismissed his comments and said his only focus is on McLaren, who have an option to renew on both their drivers for the 2019 campaign.

"Flavio wants the best for me in terms of results," Alonso told AS newspaper. "In the last two or three years there were three teams ahead of the others so I understand his comments.

"But I'm happy where I am now.

"I think there are many things that we will change and we will become more competitive. So I think that in the next couple of months, the place to be is McLaren.

"That is the message for our fans and the people who support us."

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Alonso on unrealistic expectations at McLaren

Fernando Alonso thinks peoples' expectations of McLaren are too high this season, but did say that the team are off to great start.

McLaren have secured double points finishes in both races so far in the 2018 campaign and are already close to surpassing their 2017 points total.

But talk of podiums and titles, something that Alonso has referenced himself over the past few months, are now a little unrealistic.

"I don't know what exactly people were expecting from one season to another where the regulations stay the same," said Alonso via Motorsport.com.

"There were three teams ahead of everyone last year and this year they stayed ahead of everyone.

"Last year in three races we had zero points. Last year Stoffel [Vandoorne] didn't even make the start in Bahrain, he was pulling the car into the pitlane so this year from two races four cars to the checkered flag and third in the constructors' championship.

"If we look at the facts, not the feelings or the wishes or the dreams, if we see the facts, this is a very good start."

Alonso also pointed out how strong McLaren have been with reliability thus far, with teams around them suffering from a variety of early issues.

"We didn't have any mechanical failures or operational failures and I think we are the only team, no?" he added.

"With the pitstop [issues] from Ferrari, the pitstops of Haas and the Red Bull retirements.

"I think there's only one team remaining with no issues at all in two weekends, and that's only McLaren because even Mercedes they changed the gearbox already a couple of times. It's only McLaren.

"This could change quite quickly, unfortunately, but I think so far the start of the season has been very positive. But I understand that the expectations are always difficult to meet and a potential championship fight."

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