Fernando Alonso has departed yet another F1 circuit at the tail end of the 2014 season giving little away about his next move. Reporters are hanging on the Spaniard's every word for clues about his expected departure from Ferrari and lucrative move to McLaren-Honda for 2015.
Few paddock dwellers are expecting a different outcome now, with Mercedes' door apparently locked and other Mercedes-powered teams like Williams and Lotus ruling out accommodating him. "The truth is that we would love to have Fernando Alonso," Lotus' deputy boss Federico Gastaldi told Spain's AS newspaper, "but unfortunately I have to deny any possibility."
It means most paddock insiders are now simply waiting for the McLaren news to be officially unfurled. After a conspicuous and uncomfortable delay by the Woking team, boss Eric Boullier wants it to finally happen in Abu Dhabi.
"I want it for the whole team, not just the mechanics working on the car directly but even in the factory that is already focused on 2015," he told Marca newspaper. "If you expect it to happen after Abu Dhabi, it may take a week, two weeks, three weeks where nothing happens again and people maybe lose concentration."
Alonso, however, has bad news for the expectant Woking team. "Australia 2015 is still several months away. I will do something by then," he smiled to television broadcasters after the Brazilian grand prix. Asked specifically if an announcement can be expected at the Abu Dhabi finale, he answered: "I don't think so. We are still in this championship and scoring points now is the most important thing. That is the top priority," Alonso insisted.
His only hint was to tell Spanish reporters that he plans to race "at the best place possible" in 2015, which for now leaves question marks alongside the names of other drivers. One of them is Romain Grosjean, who is obviously hoping a last-minute opportunity at a top team opens up. "He still has this famous (exit) clause in his contract," Lotus team owner Gerard Lopez told France's RMC, "but for the moment, there is no change."
Also waiting is Jenson Button, who is expected to be ejected from F1 once the Alonso move is completed. The Briton made a timely point to his McLaren paymasters on Sunday by finishing a strong fourth, but time may in fact have run out for the 34-year-old who told insiders that his next step could actually be into the world of professional triathlon.
After his solid result in Brazil, Button said: "I think I'm doing a pretty good job at the moment. I have nothing more to prove. "I've been doing this job for 15 years, I was world champion, I always gave my best. The rest is not in my hands. When you're in my situation, there are good and bad days but on the track, I always try to stay positive." (GMM)