McLaren have announced that former world champion Fernando Alonso is to leave the team, after both parties agreed to a “mutual parting of ways”. Alonso, who joined the British squad from Renault at the start of 2007, did have two years left to run on his contract.
The statement released today revealed that, after discussions, it had been decided “it would be in the best interests of both parties to bring the relationship to an end”.
Although Alonso won four races during the 2007 season, and finished third in the championship battle, relations between the Spaniard and McLaren had become increasingly strained in recent months.
“He is a great driver but for some reason the combination of Vodafone McLaren Mercedes and Fernando has not really worked out, and in the end we reached a stage where none of us could find a way to move forward," explained McLaren team principal Ron Dennis. "We all believe that our joint decision to part company is for the best, and we will now continue to focus on our 2008 world championship challenge. Everybody at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, especially McLaren’s Spanish Partners Banco Santander and Mutua Madrilena and the team’s title partner Vodafone, want to wish Fernando all the best for the future.”
For his part, Alonso said that, although he never really felt at home at McLaren, he still believed they were a great squad. “Since I was a boy I had always wanted to drive for McLaren, but sometimes in life things do not work out," explained the 26 year-old. "I continue to believe that McLaren is a great team. Yes, we have had our ups and downs during the season, which has made it extra-challenging for all of us, and it is not a secret that I never really felt at home. I know there have been suggestions of favoritism within the team and people say a lot of things in the heat of battle, but in the end I was always provided with an equal opportunity to win. Today’s decision allows all of us to focus on 2008, and I wish the team, Vodafone, Banco Santander, Mutua Madrilena and all the other team partners who I have worked closely with during the year, the best for the future.”
The team also revealed that an announcement on Alonso’s replacement would be made in due course.
The only question that remains unanswered is: will Fernando Alonso be the 2008 Renault driver? I hope that we will find that soon!