McLaren willing to spend 'big money' to retain Alonso

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MARINA BAY, Singapore -- McLaren claims to be "very close" to securing a new contract with Fernando Alonso that will see him remain as one of Formula One's best paid drivers.

Now in the final year of his current contract, Alonso's future at McLaren had been in doubt following three seasons without a podium. But news this weekend that McLaren has secured a switch to Renault power for 2018 means Alonso is more likely to remain at the team in the hope that it can turn its fortunes around next year.

"We are very close [to a deal] with Fernando," Brown said on Saturday in Singapore. "We had dinner last night -- a midnight snack or whatever time that was -- and he's very happy with the direction of the team and the team in general.

"He's one of the highest paid drivers in the sport and for us to retain him he will continue to be one of the highest paid drivers in the sport."

Half of Alonso's current $40 million salary is believed to be paid by Honda under the team's agreement with the Japanese manufacturer, but that will end next year.

When asked if the two-time world champion would need to take a pay cut in 2018, Brown said: "Not necessarily. The big boys cost big money."

"We have very committed shareholders that want us to win races," Brown added. "That's the mandate and remit they have given us, to do what it takes to win. We will work together to deal with the financials."

And Brown said Alonso's pay cheque would not result in compromises elsewhere in the team.

"We will ultimately come to whatever financial arrangement we need to and that won't compromise us. Eric has a good budget and we are spending more on capital expenditure and we will continue to release the money as he requests it. We are not going to compromise our racing product."