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Alonso to race for Audi at Le Mans in 2015?
Fernando Alonso is a card-sharp, ace poker player, and keen amateur magician. As the Formula One circus - a sadly diminished one, thanks to Marussia and Caterham’s financial travails - arrives in Austin for the US GP, the Spaniard’s sense of mischief is reaching new heights.
Though still dodging the media’s questions about his next move, Alonso has admitted that he has a ‘very ambitious plan in my head for the future’. What gives?
TG.com has a few theories. The first runs like this: he will definitely leave Maranello, with the most likely destination McLaren. With Honda back as the team’s engine supplier for 2015, Big Ron’s outfit wants a big ticket name to lead the charge.
The sticking point is that Alonso is said to be insisting on a single-year deal, hedging his bets on Honda blazing back into the sport it dominated when Ayrton Senna was the main man back in the late 1980s. Apparently the Honda hybrid V6 is looking very promising, but what if the McLaren chassis it’s bolted into is a donkey?
McLaren, still searching for a headline sponsor, bidding farewell to sporting director Sam Michael, and desperate to rediscover its competitive mojo, wants to tie Alonso to a multi-year contract.
The alternative option is much more intriguing, and plays to Alonso’s loyalties and his sense of theatre. Earlier this week, Audi announced that Ferrari’s former team principal Stefano Domenicali, who fell on his sword and left Maranello in April, would be joining the team, the start date said to be 1 November.
Although we’re still waiting for more information, Domenicali looks most likely going to succeed Audi Sport’s boss, 64-year-old Dr Wolfgang Ullrich.
Domenicali, 49, expressed his desire to race at Le Mans while still at Scuderia Ferrari, and attended the race with former Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo in 2009.
Now he can do it, as part of a team that has been dominant at La Sarthe 13 times in the past 15 years. But Domenicali is also very close to Fernando Alonso, who was dismayed when his friend and mentor left Ferrari.
In other words, it raises the tantalising prospect of Alonso taking a sabbatical from F1 to race for Audi in 2015, at a team that now includes one of his closest allies in a top position, while he waits to see how McLaren-Honda shapes up or for a seat to become vacant at the Mercedes F1 team.
Fernando, too, has designs on motorsport’s top endurance race, and even acted as the official starter this year.
Or, better still, how about Alonso winning at Le Mans in an Audi next year, in their last appearance in the race, before leading the team into Formula One in 2016? Let the speculation begin…