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F1 Abu Dhabi GP: Alonso pays tribute to Button ahead of 2017 changes

Fernando Alonso wants to end 2016 on a high as he pays tribute to outgoing team-mate Jenson Button with the Abu Dhabi GP closing the current era of McLaren.
Fernando Alonso wants to end 2016 on a high as he pays tribute to outgoing team-mate Jenson Button with the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix closing the current era of McLaren.

The former F1 world champion will be joined by Stoffel Vandoorne in McLaren's 2017 driver line-up, while the Woking-based team is already adjusting to its new Executive Director Zak Brown after the McLaren board placed Ron Dennis on gardening leave from his post as Chairman and CEO.

READ: Zak Brown announced as McLaren Executive Director

While not commenting on the change of senior management at McLaren, Alonso has remarked at the 'end of a significant year' ahead of the changes being felt next season.

“For McLaren-Honda, this race marks the end of a significant year for the team, and the last time I'll race with my team-mate Jenson for the foreseeable future,” Alonso said. “It's been a pleasure to work with him and I'll miss him being in the garage next to me, but he'll still very much be part of McLaren-Honda's plans and I want to wish him all the best for the exciting things he has in store for the next step in his career.

“There's a unique atmosphere [at Abu Dhabi] – a combination of the 'end-of-term' feeling, anticipation ahead of the winter development push and the buzz from the fans as we go racing for the final time in 2016.”

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Alonso is expecting a tricky final race of 2016 for McLaren as he fears its weaknesses on outright power and top speed will be exposed on the Yas Marina Circuit's long straights.

After the team's disastrous 2015, Alonso has led the McLaren's recent resurgence having claimed six points finishes in the past 10 races, a run which has seen him move to 10th in the F1 world drivers' championship.

“The faster first sector and the two long straights in the middle sector at Yas Marina mean that it isn't a track that will naturally suit our package,” he said. “But over the course of Friday we'll work hard to dial in the car to make the most of what we have and extract as much performance as possible.

“It's an interesting track to set the car up for, as although it's in the desert, the track temperature cools a lot during the course of the race as we reach twilight, so the tyre conditions and grip levels are constantly evolving as we reach the chequered flag.”

McLaren looks set to finish the season sixth in the F1 world constructors' championship to mark a sizeable step up since finishing ninth last year.



Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Jenson Button (GBR), McLaren Honda and Fernando Alonso (ESP), McLaren Honda  26.08.2016.
Kimi Raikkonen tests the 2017 F1 tyres in Abu Dhabi [credit: Pirelli]
Lewis Hamilton tests the 2017 F1 tyres in Abu Dhabi [credit: Pirelli]
Daniel Ricciardo tests the 2017 F1 tyres in Abu Dhabi [credit: Pirelli]
Kimi Raikkonen tests the 2017 F1 tyres in Abu Dhabi [credit: Pirelli]
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Pirelli 2017 tyre test [Credit: Pirelli]
27.11.2016 - Race, Jenson Button (GBR)  McLaren Honda MP4-31
27.11.2016 - Race, Jenson Button (GBR)  McLaren Honda MP4-31
27.11.2016 - Race, Marcus Ericsson (SUE) Sauber C34 and Fernando Alonso (ESP) McLaren Honda MP4-31
27.11.2016 - Race, Jolyon Palmer (GBR) Renault Sport F1 Team RS16 and Jenson Button (GBR)  McLaren Honda MP4-31
27.11.2016 - Race, Start of the race, Fernando Alonso (ESP) McLaren Honda MP4-31 off trach and Max Verstappen (NED) Red Bull Racing RB12 spins
27.11.2016 - Race, Fernando Alonso (ESP) McLaren Honda MP4-31
27.11.2016 - Race, Jenson Button (GBR)  McLaren Honda MP4-31
27.11.2016 - Race, Jenson Button (GBR)  McLaren Honda MP4-31
27.11.2016 - Race, Felipe Massa (BRA) Williams FW38 and Fernando Alonso (ESP) McLaren Honda MP4-31
27.11.2016 - Race, Jenson Button (GBR)  McLaren Honda MP4-31
27.11.2016 - Race, Jenson Button (GBR)  McLaren Honda MP4-31 and his girlfriend Brittny Ward (USA)
27.11.2016 - Race, Jenson Button (GBR)  McLaren Honda MP4-31 and his girlfriend Brittny Ward (USA)

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