Fernando Alonso believes the Formula 1 rule changes to make cars faster in 2017 could sway his decision on whether to stay on the grid beyond his current contract.
The two-time world champion is in the middle of a three-year deal with McLaren, which concludes at the end of 2017. With rule changes set to make cars significantly faster next year, Alonso – who feels the current cars are too slow – admitted ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix that the changes could increase his enthusiasm for F1 when the time comes to think about his future.
“For the future, I will see next year around the summertime, so for the next 12 months I will not speak about the future because they will be long press conferences,” said Alonso. “My contract finishes [at the end of] next year, and with many changes coming in the regulations in terms of tyres, performance, it could make Formula 1 again attractive to drive.
“Now it’s a little bit frustrating how we drive these cars, how we save everything, which is against your instincts. So we will see next year, and I will decide after the summer [of 2017].”
While Alonso accepts McLaren is behind its initial plan for progress with Honda, which had it fighting at the front on a regular basis by now, he does not believe that is out of the question for next year.
“It’s not unlikely we will be fighting for the championship next year – who knows?” he said. “The rule change is a possibility for all of us, and the teams we are in the midfield with now could have a good chance next year to recover.
“We have another few months on the engine, which could be quite important in terms of recovering the power we are missing. Things are quite open for next year, and I’m not pessimistic, I’m not thinking right now we will not be in that fight [at the front].”
Teammate Jenson Button added: “You always ask questions, when will you be competitive? It’s unbelievable pressure from outside. Inside, we know where we are.
“The atmosphere in the team is very good. Fernando and I bring a lot of experience and direction. The regulation change for next year, it changes everything. I’m happy with the progress being made, there is a good feeling.
“It always takes a bit longer than you want.”