Alonso a ticking time bomb: Webber

ABU DHABI • Fernando Alonso is a time bomb waiting to explode as McLaren could discover next season if their car remains uncompetitive, according to the Spaniard's friend and former Formula One rival Mark Webber.

"It looks like between the pair of them (Alonso and McLaren), there is obviously something happening," the Australian told Reuters at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix yesterday.

McLaren boss Ron Dennis mentioned on Saturday the possibility of the double world champion, who has two years remaining on his contract, taking a sabbatical next season rather than endure another year as bad as 2015.

Alonso, who has made his feelings evident over the course of McLaren's worst-ever season, said in response that his intention was to race next year but fell short of a 100 per cent commitment.

Webber, now a world endurance champion with Porsche, had told the BBC on Saturday that the Spaniard was "a ticking time bomb" and he stuck by that view a day later.

"He is," said the 39-year-old former Red Bull driver. "That's his style, we've seen it. That's why we love him. You never know what's coming round the (corner).

"He's his own man, he's doing his own thing...but we've seen him already this year boil over to a degree," said the Australian, who shares a manager with Alonso in Italian Flavio Briatore. "I think winter testing will be interesting."

Alonso's on-track outbursts and gestures have made headlines as former champions McLaren's woes became increasingly embarrassing.

In Japan, engine partner Honda's home race, the Spaniard compared the under-performing and unreliable power unit to one used in the GP2 support series in comments made over the team radio.

In Brazil, he triggered a social media storm when he retired from qualifying without completing a timed lap and spent the rest of the session sitting on a picnic chair by the side of the track.

One image of Alonso lying back, eyes closed and sunning himself, went viral. The Twitter hashtag #placesAlonsowouldratherbe, with doctored images of the Spaniard reclining in various locations far from his McLaren cockpit, started trending and continues to be popular.

He and 2009 champion team-mate Jenson Button also went up on the Interlagos podium for a photograph, just to remind themselves of what it felt like.

If Alonso, 34, were to take a year out, and it remains a big 'If', the Spaniard can take comfort in the example of Frenchman Alain Prost, who sat out 1992 before returning with Williams to take a fourth title.

"We've seen it work with Prost, so maybe Fernando can. But it's pretty rare," said Webber.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 30, 2015, with the headline 'Alonso a ticking time bomb: Webber'. Print Edition | Subscribe