McLaren ‘into details’ of Alonso 2018 F1 deal

McLaren racing director Eric Boullier says the team is into the fine details with Fernando Alonso about his 2018 contract, with an update expected at the United States Grand Prix.

Alonso has stalled on a deal for next season in order to give him time to assess McLaren’s package having secured Renault engines after ditching Honda after three years of failure.

While the new-look McLaren-Renault set-up appears to be Alonso’s only realistic option of racing in F1 for 2018, he has resisted inking a new contract despite initially stating he’d have his future sorted shortly after the summer break.

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Boullier told reporters in Suzuka McLaren’s primary objective is to retain Alonso for 2018 alongside Stoffel Vandoorne who has already been confirmed for next year and is convinced the two-time F1 world champion will remain at the Woking-based team.

“As I’ve said already we are into the details now,” Boullier said. “As far as the intention is there and I think we should be able to fix the details. If we start to think of all the scenarios that would be complicated but so far we expect to be able to convince Fernando to stay.”

While an announcement is expected by the United States Grand Prix, Boullier has put a question on Jenson Button’s future at McLaren beyond next year.

The 2009 F1 world champion said in Suzuka he was aiming for a full-time return to racing either in IMSA in America or in Super GT in Japan – but not in F1 but the McLaren boss says there won’t be any options for Button to do that while with McLaren.

“I think Button is looking for a full-time racing seat but we don’t have any,” he said. “He is an ambassador and we are happy to keep working with him in a role which suits both parties.

“We have nothing more to offer him. It is going to depend on what he is going to do.”

Button signed a two-year deal with McLaren last season to take a one-year sabbatical from F1 with the option of returning in 2018. It is believed Button could be McLaren’s back-up option if Alonso walks away, while newly-crowned European Formula 3 champion Lando Norris is also in the frame, but assuming the Spanish driver re-signs Button could be free to leave.

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