|Rediff India Abroad Home | All the sections|
McLaren confirm split with Alonso
Alan Baldwin | November 02, 2007 19:18 IST
Spain's double Formula One world champion Fernando Alonso [Images] has left McLaren in a mutual split after an acrimonious and controversial season with the Mercedes-powered team.
McLaren announced the widely expected decision in a statement on Friday.
"Following a meeting between Fernando Alonso and McLaren, it was agreed that it would be in the best interests of both parties to bring the relationship to an end," they said in a statement.
The 26-year-old driver, who joined McLaren from Renault at the end of the 2006 season, fell out with team management whom he accused of favouring rookie team mate Lewis Hamilton [Images]. He had two years to run on his contract.
The Spaniard's next destination remains uncertain, with Renault eager to secure his return while other teams could also change their plans now that one of the sport's hottest properties is openly available.
"Since I was a boy I had always wanted to drive for McLaren, but sometimes in life things do not work out," Alonso said in the McLaren statement.
"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," he added.
"I know there have been suggestions of favouritism 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."
Spanish media said the divorce was negotiated by Alonso's manager Luis Garcia Abad and a lawyer at the McLaren headquarters in Woking on Thursday and Friday morning.
The El Mundo newspaper said Alonso, who finished the season in third place level on points with Hamilton and a point behind Ferrari's [Images] new champion Kimi Raikkonen [Images], would not have to pay any compensation to McLaren.
McLaren did not give any details of the terms of the separation but said it had been decided only after the season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix on October 21.
"The mutual parting of ways has not been discussed until now, since it was felt that any such discussion could have seriously disrupted the team's and Fernando's 2007 Formula One World Championship challenge," the statement said.
Team boss Ron Dennis, who said in September that he had not been on speaking terms with Alonso since a row on the morning of the Hungarian Grand Prix on August 5, wished the Spaniard well.
"He is a great driver but for some reason the combination of Vodafone McLaren Mercedes and Fernando has not really worked out," he said.
"In the end we reached a stage where none of us could find a way to move forward. 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."
McLaren said a decision on who would replace Alonso alongside Hamilton, overall runner-up in a sensational rookie season, would be made in due course.
Alonso won four races for McLaren, who were fined $100 million (48 million pounds) and stripped of all their constructors' points after a spying controversy with Ferrari.
The Spaniard played a key role in that controversy, providing e-mail evidence to the governing body that proved damning for his team.
Formula One: The Complete Coverage