The driver shuffle is about to begin with the news that Fernando Alonso will be leaving McLaren. In a statement released by McLaren-Mercedes, the team has confirmed that they came to a mutual agreement to end Alonso s three year contract early.
“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,” said the team in a statement.
“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.
“Both parties believe that this was the right decision.”
The news will not come as a surprise to many with the tensions within the team well-known. In particular, there have been battles between the Spanish driver and his boss, Ron Dennis, although it appears that peace has been made between the pair.
“Since I was a boy I had always wanted to drive for McLaren, but sometimes in life things do not work out,” Alonso explained. “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.
“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, and I wish the team, Vodafone, Banco Santander, Mutua Madrilena and all the other team Partners who I have worked closely with during the year, the best for the future.”
Meanwhile Dennis has praised the Spaniard and said that he feels the decision to go their separate ways was the right one. “Everybody at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, especially McLaren’s Spanish Partners Banco Santander and Mutua Madrilena and the team’s title partner Vodafone, want to wish Fernando all the best for the future,â€ Dennis said.
“He is a great driver but for some reason the combination of Vodafone McLaren Mercedes and Fernando has not really worked out, and 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.”
As yet there is no news on where Alonso is headed, nor who will partner Lewis Hamilton next season.