Fernando Alonso: Spaniard is not going to Mercedes, says Flavio Briatore

Fernando Alon_92904982_hamilton_alonso_gettyso is not a candidate to replace world champion Nico Rosberg at Mercedes, the Spaniard’s manager Flavio Briatore has said.

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff said on Monday that he “had to consider”Alonso as a replacement for the German, who announced his retirement last week.

The two-time champion is contracted to McLaren until the end of 2017.

Briatore told Gazetta dello Sport: “We have an agreement with McLaren and we are going to respect that.”

McLaren executive director Zak Brown said this week: “We have a contract with Fernando and he is very happy. Obviously he wants to be winning races, as do we, but I am not worried about that scenario. We are very comfortable where we are at.”

Wolff was always wary of putting him alongside 2015 champion Lewis Hamilton after their tumultuous season as McLaren team-mates in 2007and BBC Sport understands he has made no approach to McLaren.

McLaren would reject such a move because a high-profile team with a works engine partner in Honda has to have a recognised top-rank driver as part of their line-up.

McLaren’s other driver next year is the Belgian rookie Stoffel Vandoorne, 24. He is an exciting prospect but lacks the experience or cachet to lead such a team and therefore McLaren cannot afford to lose Alonso.

The Spaniard left Ferrari for McLaren at the end of 2014, two years before the end of his contract with the Italian team.

_92905074_flavio_briatore_gettyFernando Alonso's agent Flavio Briatore
Alonso’s agent Flavio Briatore said the Spaniard will respect his contract with McLaren

But Briatore said that the two situations were not comparable. He said former Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo had promised Alonso the chance to leave Ferrari at the end of 2014 if they could not win the Championship.

“We had discussions with [then team boss] Marco Mattiacci about extending the contract for another three years but we didn’t accept it,” Briatore said.

The favourites to replace Rosberg are Williams driver Valtteri Bottas and Mercedes reserve driver Pascal Wehrlein.

Wolff is part of Bottas’ management team but the Finn is contracted to Williams until the end of 2017. The team will be reluctant to lose him because their other driver next year is the 18-year-old Canadian rookie Lance Stroll and Bottas will be their main hope.

Other than Wehrlein, Mercedes have limited options.

Like Alonso, all the obvious candidates – whether they be race-winning top-line drivers or experienced second-string options – are already under contract for next year.

If they do not want to promote Wehrlein, Mercedes will have to try to reach a deal with another team to buy a driver out of his contract.

But just as McLaren would not sell Alonso, for the same reasons Renault are unlikely to hand over their new signing Nico Hulkenberg or Force India release Sergio Perez.


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