Alonso denies making Honda ultimatum to McLaren

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MONZA, Italy -- Just one week after he was linked to a move away from McLaren, Fernando Alonso has mellowed about the prospect of remaining at the team next year -- even if it remains with struggling engine supplier Honda.

Over the Belgian Grand Prix weekend it was reported that Alonso had threatened to walk away from McLaren if the team continued with Honda engines next season, but as the timeframe for making a decision on his future narrows, it is looking increasingly likely that he will remain where he is in 2018.

McLaren's engine options look slim for 2018, with both Mercedes and Ferrari ruling themselves out and a Renault deal unlikely unless Toro Rosso can be convinced to switch to Honda. It was thought Alonso was putting pressure on McLaren to ditch Honda, but when he was asked if he had issued an ultimatum to his team, he quickly denied it.

"That is absolutely not true," Alonso said in Monza. "I read that this weekend and I have absolutely not decided that.

"More than anything, I am not bigger than the team. We have 1,000 people at McLaren and Honda working for the championship. We know that things are not going in the right direction, we are not competitive enough after three years, but we all want to change that situation.

"There are 1,000 people there and I am probably the least important one. For McLaren it is crucial to improve the situation so they are the first who want to improve as the second best team in the history of the sport with numbers. The team that has won the second most times in Monza. We are McLaren and we all want the same thing: to be competitive."

Earlier this year, Alonso made clear he would only sign a deal with a team that has the potential to deliver wins in 2018, adding that it was too early to judge whether a Honda-powered McLaren could deliver that. However, speaking on Thursday ahead of the Italian Grand Prix, Alonso said he sees the potential within McLaren to win championships.

"I will start sitting down with the team, especially to understand the prospects for the future and the expectations for next year, we do now have some ingredients to be champions," he said. "The team has improved a lot over the past three years since I arrived and I think we have the talent, the facilities and everything we are just need to be more competitive. That is the most important thing, arguably, but we will see what the numbers are for next year. After that we will make a decision."

Asked about the length of a potential new McLaren contract, Alonso added: "We will see. We will see what are the proposals. If they are very good then maybe two years could work but if not maybe one year could work. Or maybe three or five, I am young enough."

Alonso has also been linked to Renault for 2018, but played down suggestions of a switch over the winter.

"Renault will always be in my heart and I have a lot of connections with Renault. Even my go-kart circuit is running under the Renault agreement. In terms of racing I am extremely happy here and I believe here we could have the package to win a championship. Renault also said they think next year they will not be ready so they are honest as well."

Asked directly if he would consider renewing his contract with McLaren if it remains with Honda, he added: "Let's see. After that statement I would sit down with McLaren and sit down with Honda to see what their expectations are and what are the conditions. I will probably see more in detail not just at McLaren but also in Japan by flying there to see the real developments and after that make a decision."