Dennis clarifies Alonso year-off comments
30 November 2015 – McLaren boss Ron Dennis has clarified comments he made about Fernando Alonso at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, insisting that the Spaniard will remain alongside Jenson Button in 2016.
Dennis hinted that taking a sabbatical was an option for Alonso, though his driver expressed his surprise when he heard about the suggestion, and made clear that his plan is to race.
Alonso returned to McLaren in 2015 – on a three-year deal – for the team's reunion with Honda, but the Japanese firm has struggled to produce a reliable and competitive engine.
"Fernando's in the car next year; he told everybody," Dennis told Sky Sports.
"Somebody asked me whether it was feasible that he [Alonso] could have a sabbatical year and I said anything's feasible – we talk about it being one of the options.
"But they forget that I said at the end, 'but Fernando and Jenson are driving next year', so off goes a story when I made it explicitly clear that the two drivers are Jenson and Fernando."
Dennis remains confident that McLaren can take a sizeable step forward next year, after recording just 27 points during the first season of its renewed partnership with Honda.
"We've been working on next year's engine for some time now and the question is how long before you freeze it and start optimising reliability," Dennis went on to explain.
"But we'll have the performance and we'll take a pretty big step up the grid."