Alonso 'happy at McLaren' despite more engine pain at Spa

Fernando Alonso, McLaren, Belgian Grand Prix
© XPB 

A dream start to the Belgian Grand Prix for Fernando Alonso quickly turned into a now all-too familiar nightmare of crushing disappointment for the two-time world champion.

Yet despite the latest setback, Alonso insisted he was happy at McLaren. That has sparked rumours that he could be considering extending his contract with the team.

Alonso started Sunday's race from tenth position. The McLaren quickly made up three spots through the first few corners at Spa-Francorchamps, with passes on Renault's Nico Hulkenberg and the Force Indias of Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez.

However, that early delight was soon dashed. One-by-one, each of the drivers he had passed at the start were easily able to regain their positions. Alonso sank to 13th place as more cars used DRS to force their way past.

Alonso was left fuming about the situation. He complained over the team radio about the "embarrassing, really embarrassing" situation. At point point he even seemed riled by communications from the McLaren pit wall, asking for silence.

“It was a lot of radio communications for four or five laps, a lot of suggestions on brake balance and diff settings," he explained.

"But I have a lot of things to do in the cockpit with cars going left and right, so I wanted to concentrate for a couple of laps."

He eventually retired from the race after 25 laps. His team mate Stoffel Vandoorne did manage to last the distance, but finished out of the points in 14th place.

Alonso insisted that he hadn't just had enough and decided to park the car. He said it was a problem with the power unit rather than any lack of driver motivation that had forced him out.

"There was a problem, an engine issue," he told reporters afterwards. "We lost the power unfortunately. Difficult race, points were impossible today.

“Definitely not the pace in the race," he explained. "We were too slow on the straights and impossible to defend."

But Alonso was eager to point out that the Spa-Francorchamps weekend hadn't been without its positive aspects.

"We did a good qualifying yesterday, a perfect start, running seventh on the first couple of laps," he noted. "Today we saw our deficit, so hopefully we can improve things."

Overall Alonso was noticeably more positive about his situation at McLaren than has often been the case. It sparked paddock speculation that he could now stay at Woking in 2018 after all.

"I think we'll see what happens in the next couple of weeks," he told reporters. "I'm happy with the team. I think we are in a tough season but McLaren is one of the best teams in the world.

"I'll be happy to keep working with them," he added. "But we need to see how things evolve in the next couple of weeks."

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