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F1 Abu Dhabi GP: McLaren must do everything to keep Alonso – Capito

McLaren CEO Jost Capito says the team must do everything in its power next season to ensure it retains Fernando Alonso beyond F1 2017.
Jost Capito has urged McLaren-Honda to do everything in its power to ensure Fernando Alonso remains in the team beyond the 2017 Formula 1 season.

The two-time world champion re-joined McLaren in 2015 at the start of its high-profile collaboration with engine supplier Honda, but has struggled in the mid-field amid poor reliability over the last two seasons.

Alonso's McLaren deal concludes at the end of the 2017 F1 season, but it is unclear whether he will continue committing to the team or whether he will consider exiting the sport altogether.

For Capito, who joined McLaren F1 in September in the role of CEO prior to Ron Dennis' departure as chairman, one of the team's priorities in 2017 will be to retain the Spaniard.

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"If the car and the engine are good, and he enjoys the new rules, there is no reason why he shouldn't stay," Capito told the BBC. Fernando is a great asset for the team and we should do everything to keep him."

Alonso's decision is likely to hinge on his impression of the new-for-2017 regulations, which are set to ensure cars lap up to five seconds faster.

The Spaniard has repeatedly expressed his frustration with the current V6 Hybrid era, not least because Honda has struggled to match rivals Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault in producing a fast and reliable power unit.

In a wide-ranging interview Capito also revealed his duties don't change despite Dennis' exit. The long-serving chairman was ousted earlier this month and placed on gardening leave until January when he is replaced by Zak Brown and other yet to be determined in individuals.

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He also said he is expecting a step forward from both McLaren and Honda in 2017 under the revised regulations which he believes presents a major opportunity to make up ground.

"I expect improvement on the car from McLaren and a big step from Honda on the engine," he said. "It takes always a certain time to form a team with a new partner like this.

"McLaren and Honda were partners before [from 1988-92] but it was a long time ago. All new people are involved and it takes a while for Honda to understand how McLaren works and for McLaren to understand how Honda works. I think this is now achieved.

"It is a very good partnership and the Honda guys understand more what is needed from the chassis side and we understand more what is needed from the engine side as well.

"I expect really not just the improvement of each but also the improvement of the overall relationship. So one plus one is not two - it should be three."

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