Internal feuding at McLaren? New rumors emerge (Update)


It's doubtful Alonso wants to endure a season with a 'lemon' Honda engine like Vettel had to endure in 2014 with Renault

(GMM) As the McLaren wait rolls on, the British team is continuing to take criticism for leaving Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen in the lurch.

"What is happening at McLaren is unworthy of such a team," Mika Hakkinen, who won both his titles with the Woking outfit, is quoted by Blick newspaper.

At the same time, it is obvious that there is more to the situation than simply the dithering of McLaren supremo Ron Dennis.

Spain's AS newspaper claims McLaren wants its driver decision to coincide with announcements about two new sponsors, and the "negotiations with one of them is complicated".

The report cited sources in saying one of the sponsors could be Movistar, to complement the Fernando Alonso deal, while another is "a major company from the United Arab Emirates".

But there are other authoritative reports that suggest the hold-up could even be related to Alonso's contract.

Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport claimed on Tuesday that the Spaniard's contract, although not yet announced, contains a unilateral exit clause.

The news will re-fire speculation Alonso still sees his future at Mercedes in 2016, particularly after the less-than-smooth track debut of Honda's new V6 engine recently.

And the latest rumors do not stop there.

Germany's Auto Motor und Sport said Alonso could be so alarmed by the recent Honda test in Abu Dhabi that he might simply choose to sit 2015 out altogether and focus instead on a Le Mans campaign with Porsche.

Another theory is that Alonso is waiting on the outcome of Ron Dennis' wrangling with McLaren's other shareholders, which could mean a new boss is installed for 2015.


McLaren co-owners Ron Dennis (L) Mansour Ojeh

I'm beginning to wonder whether Fernando Alonso might be having serious second thoughts about breaking his contract with Ferrari and signing on to drive for McLaren from 2015.

Isn't this business about the team's inability to decide on a second driver a serious indication that McLaren is as dysfunctional as ever? At least, dysfunctional in its recent past?

Alonso, who agreed contractually to drive for the Scuderia through 2016, left two years early to return to a team where he spent one very uncomfortable year in 2007, his talent and seniority overshadowed by the coming brilliance of a young rookie named Lewis Hamilton. Although he scored the same number of points as Hamilton that year, and finished only two points short of the world championship (which would have been his third), Alonso left McLaren after only one year.

At the time, his decision to bail had as much – maybe even more – to do with his falling-out with McLaren team principal Ron Dennis over what came to be known as Spygate as it did with his testy relationship with Hamilton.

As it turned out, Dennis soon stepped down as team principal after losing a power struggle with McLaren co-owner Mansour Ojeh, his one-time buddy. He moved over to run the road-car division of the company and left the operating of the racing team to Ojeh and another old pal, Martin Whitmarsh.

Almost from that moment, Whitmarsh and Ojeh had the welcome mat rolled out for Alonso to return. Their approaches almost worked, and Alonso was very close to moving from Ferrari to McLaren a year ago, when three things happened: One, Ojeh got sick, went into hospital and two, Dennis saw an opportunity to return to the race team. About the first thing he did was three, fire Martin Whitmarsh and it was at that moment that Alonso said whoa, no way.

But then Ojeh, who suffered from serious respiratory system ailments and was expected to die, had a miraculous recovery following a double-lung transplant. As he got better and found out what had happened while he was away, he became very upset that Dennis had re-taken control of the race team in his absence and had fired Whitmarsh.

There has been yet another internal war for control going on there ever since.

If this is how things are working in the off-season, then 2015 at McLaren is showing every indication of being just as awful for Alonso as 2007 ever was.

For fans of Fernando – and there are many, because nobody in F1 is as hard a racer as he is – they can only hope that his management team has inserted as many clauses in his contract as necessary to ensure that, if anyone at McLaren so much as makes even one false move, says one negative word or does one dirty deed at any time during the length of said contract, he can walk.

And take the money with him.

OR . . .

As I've mentioned previously, there is a one per cent chance of another scenario, which is that Lewis Hamilton will be back at McLaren and Alonso will be at Mercedes in 2015. Other than Ferrari announcing that Fernando won't be back, McLaren hasn't said boo. Norris McDonald/Toronto Star

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