Fernando Alonso and Ron Dennis have steered away from speculation the Spaniard might be taking a sabbatical in 2016. Dennis, the McLaren supremo, lit the fuse on Saturday at Abu Dhabi, but 24 hours later was hitting reverse gear.
"I was talking to a reporter and all I said is that I was open and everything can be discussed," the Woking team's group chairman is quoted by the Spanish newspaper Marca. "I also immediately clarified that Fernando and Jenson (Button) will be in the car in 2016, which many (media) colleagues forgot to add," Dennis said.
Curiously, Alonso had not categorically ruled out the 'sabbatical' idea shortly after Dennis made the comments, but he was also playing that down on Sunday. "I will be racing (in 2016) -- 100 per cent," he said. "I think if I had to choose a sabbatical year, I would choose this one (2015)."
Clearly, however, Abu Dhabi was yet another frustrating race for the former double world champion, particularly when he was being lapped by his Ferrari successor, Sebastian Vettel. "He must really hate me. I don't know what his problem is," Vettel fumed on the radio.
Another in-race radio transmission, meanwhile, captured Alonso in the process of wanting to "retire the car", even though it was undamaged. He was also penalised by the stewards for an early crash involving Pastor Maldonado. "I don't know if Pastor didn't buy him the right drinks at the last party or something," Vettel joked.
Alonso then drew the curtain on his abysmal 2015 season by hitting out at the FIA for lacking "sense" in applying the penalty, and falling behind other racing categories. "I think they should look at other categories like WEC (Le Mans) or MotoGP, how successful they are. F1 asks about the sound of the cars, why they have less and less spectators, but these things they need to have a bit more sense." (GMM)
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing