MEXICO CITY — Fernando Alonso hopes McLaren’s 2018 switch to Renault will help the team challenge Mercedes and end the “easy time” the team had in securing both championships this year.
Despite a close fight with a resurgent Ferrari this year, Mercedes wrapped up the constructors’ title in Austin, with Hamilton claiming a fourth drivers’ championship seven days later. Ferrari has arguably had the better race car in the second half of the season but was hamstrung by a series of setbacks after the Italian Grand Prix.
With McLaren reaching the end of its disastrous relationship with Honda, Alonso hopes the team is joining a partnership which gives them the tools to fight the world champions.
“It was very easy this year, no opponents,” Alonso said. “Last year he had Nico [Rosberg] until the last race, fighting every single race.
“This year was too easy. Mercedes four races to the end constructors’ champion, Hamilton three races before the end drivers’ champion. Hopefully McLaren-Renault will change this easy time for them.”
Hamilton wrapped up the title by driving back to 9th from 20th after an early collision with title rival Sebastian Vettel, securing the points he needed to ensure the battle did not continue to the penultimate round in Brazil. In the final laps Hamilton caught Alonso and engaged in a thrilling three-lap duel with the Spaniard, which saw them twice go wheel to wheel through the first sequence of corners.
On the second of those battles, Hamilton made the move stick with a good manoeuvre around the outside of Turn 4, but Alonso thinks the fight should have made the newly-crowned 2017 champion scared of McLaren’s threat next season and prompted him to repeat one of his favourite statements about the team’s car.
When asked if his stern defence was a way of reminding Hamilton about himself, he said: “I think he knows, he knows. He knows also how strong the McLaren car [is] in the corners, he saw also today. I think next year hopefully we can give a little bit harder time to him.”