Fernando Alonso believes McLaren auto is 'right behind' Mercedes and Ferrari's

With his three-year McLaren-Honda contract expiring, Spaniard Alonso has revealed that he is on the market for 2018 unless the struggling Anglo-Japanese collaboration can promise him a winning auto.

"My intention or first priority is to race next year here". "If from here to October I see the opportunity to win in 2018, I will be more than happy to stay with the team".

After team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne failed to start the Bahrain Grand Prix, Alonso was dealt the same hand by another engine problem in Russian Federation a fortnight ago.

By then, Alonso was being ferried back to the paddock on the back of a scooter, past numerous local fans who had come to give the Spaniard a much-needed boost.

Jenson Button will stand in as Alonso's replacement at McLaren-Honda in Monaco alongside Stoffel Vandoorne. Sergey Sirotkin was in the auto for Renault but a water leak curtailed his running to just 10 laps.

Mechanics were called to roll the McLaren back to the pits after Alonso was sent into a spin by a huge engine failure on his first practice lap.

The Spaniard who will skip the next Grand Prix in Monaco to participate in the 500-mile Indianapolis with a McLaren-Honda-Andretti vehicle, remains determined to race in F1 in 2018 despite his current ordeal. "I think this is a circuit where it's hard to overtake, we will try to keep the position".

McLaren's team radio told Alonso to "stop the auto, stop the vehicle, engine problem" as yellowish liquid dripped from the underside.

"It's not my career", Alonso said. The Italian outfit said that they had stopped the vehicle for precaution when they detected a "telemetry issue". "I still hope to be happy in the second half of the year", he added.

"(It was) really, really bad for us as a team not to start the race.

"The weekend in general was positive for us".

"Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull will be in front of us, so it would only be for seventh place again".

But the fact that there has also even been speculation in the Italian media that world championship points leader Sebastian Vettel is going to decamp from Ferrari to Mercedes alongside Lewis Hamilton suggests that there isn't enough going on elsewhere within the sport to generate serious interest. So I don't know. Obviously I don't have 100 per cent confidence because in four races we have four DNFs.

  • Julie Sanders