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Fernando Alonso had doubts about continuing in F1

AUSTIN -- Fernando Alonso was considering quitting Formula One at the end of this year before convincing himself to sign a new multi-year deal with McLaren.

McLaren confirmed on Thursday that Alonso will remain at the team for a fourth consecutive season in 2018 after three years of struggling with an unreliable and underpowered Honda engine. So bad was the situation at the start of this year that McLaren agreed to release Alonso so that he could take part in the Indy 500 rather than the Monaco Grand Prix.

Fernando Alonso. Clive Mason/Getty Images
Next year the team team will switch to Renault power in the hope of returning to the podium for the first time since 2014, but Alonso admits he came close to calling time on his F1 career.

"After Indianapolis, when I came back to F1 I had doubts if I could continue in Formula One and if I should look at other series," he said. "In the August break I had a few conversations with other teams just to know their projects, their situations -- and some of them are winning teams this year -- so there were some conversations there.

"But something inside told me to stay at McLaren. I think this year we have proved the chassis is capable of fighting at the front, we saw a lot of progress and I think the organization is much more logical in terms of winning in the short-term in Formula One. After the summer break, maybe around Spa or Monza, I was ready to make an extension of the contract but at that time the team was not ready. They were in a changing situation with the power unit and then they decided to change to Renault.

"I made sure with the Renault people, because I have a very strong relationship [with them] for many years now, what the situation was with the power unit. Making sure that there was nothing crazy going on -- and also the Red Bull in the last couple of races gave us extra motivation [that it could be a winning engine].

"They were not very serious [talks with other teams], but there were some."

Alonso said he only agreed to a continuation of his McLaren contract because he believes the team can offer him a winning car next year.

"That's why I stayed. Even after Indianapolis in July and June I was thinking what was the best option for me for next year. I don't like too much being out of qualifying before Q3. I don't like too much being off the podium.

"So I said if that will be the case next year, maybe it's better to look outside Formula One and maybe to experience again the podium celebrations and those victory tastes. But we made a lot of progress this year, I've been in the factory a lot and I know what is in plan for next year, I know what Renault is preparing for next year, so the reason I am here is because I believe I can be on those podium celebrations in those moments."

Asked to clarify the length of the new Alonso contract, McLaren executive director Zak Brown said: "We have structured an arrangement that allows Fernando to be with us for quite some time. Our desire is that however long Fernando wants to keep driving and whatever that is that he wants to keep driving, he does it with McLaren. This is a multi-year arrangement that we are very happy about."

Author: Laurence Edmondson, ESPN UK
Source: http://www.espn.co.uk/f1/story/_/id/21082118/fernando-alonso-had-doubts-continuing-f1-mclaren

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