Mark Webber thinks his long-time F1 friend Fernando Alonso could soon quit McLaren.
Australian Webber, who is now a television pundit, said in Melbourne that the third year of struggling with McLaren-Honda could be the imminent tipping point for the talented Spaniard.
“Alonso may not stay with the team,” he told the Belgian news agency Sporza. “Maybe Stoffel (Vandoorne) will soon have a new teammate.
“I can see it happening that Alonso does not complete the season. He is very frustrated,” added Webber.
“Fernando is not here for 6th or 7th places. He’s not interested in points. He wants to fight for the podium,” Webber insisted.
Alonso remarked on Saturday that one positive is that he beat Vandoorne by a full second in qualifying, but it is believed the rookie Belgian had a technical problem.
Indeed, Webber hailed Vandoorne’s arrival in F1.
“We need talent like that in F1,” he said.
“He’s a good guy with a brilliant career ahead of him.”
However, Webber said Vandoorne’s situation is very different to the one being endured by Alonso.
“His (Vandoorne’s) car and his team are not competitive, but Stoffel will get there. He can afford a moment like this.
“In your first season, you’re learning about formula one and he gets to do it out of the spotlight. Everyone is looking at his team and at Honda,” Webber explained.
Alonso was forced to retire from the Australian Grand Prix with a suspension failure late on. And the Spaniard admitted running in the points with such an “uncompetitive car” had come as a surprise to him.
“It was probably the best race of my life until that moment,” said Alonso.
“[There are] few times I’ve had such a an uncompetitive car, without any winter preparation, having to save fuel in a brutal way – I think we had to lift about a second per lap – and even so we were in the points.
“It was a pretty big surprise what we were doing, but in the end we couldn’t complete it. But it was probably one of the best races I’ve had.”