Formula One: Dennis raises idea of sabbatical but Alonso says he intends to race next year

ABU DHABI (REUTERS) - Fernando Alonso says he intends to race next season after McLaren boss Ron Dennis had suggested the Spaniard could take a year out of Formula One if the team's car remained uncompetitive.

Yet the double world champion Alonso also refused to rule out the possibility that he might take a sabbatical.

"I think you can never say 100 per cent anything," he said on Saturday. "I cannot say that tomorrow I will not have dinner. I don't know if I will be hungry or not."

"My intention is to race and I think I will race but we see how it goes next year. It is not in my plans not to race," he added after qualifying 17th for the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Dennis had earlier revealed the possibility of a year out had been discussed as the former champions wrestle with their worst-ever season.

"Some of the ideas have involved those sorts of considerations, sabbatical years etc," Dennis had said. "When we have to take the decision we'll take it together and at this moment of time, our drivers for next year are Fernando and Jenson (Button)."

Alonso has scored only 11 points from 18 races since joining from Ferrari and his frustration has been evident, the driver famously comparing the underperforming Honda engine to one from the GP2 support series.

The situation has led to speculation he would not tolerate a repeat of 2015 and would take a sabbatical.

"Yeah why not? I'm sure Jenson wants as well and everyone wants. But that's not the plan," he said on Saturday when asked if he would want a break in such circumstances. "The plan is to work very hard. I have a seat fitting on Wednesday for example so there are not really holidays until Christmas time because there are important things to be done in the next couple of weeks.

"So definitely my intention and my aim is to race next year and to win next year or at least to be competitive."

Alonso said that he had been surprised by Dennis' comments and that it would be impossible to judge the situation based on initial testing.

If Alonso, who has two more years on his contract, were to take a year out, he would not be the first top driver to do so.

Frenchman Alain Prost had a sabbatical in 1992 after falling out with Ferrari, returning to win his fourth championship with Williams in 1993.

McLaren would have a ready replacement in new GP2 champion Stoffel Vandoorne, the Belgian reserve driver who is keen to emulate Mercedes' triple world champion Lewis Hamilton by going from that series straight to a race seat at Woking.

With Button out of contract at the end of 2016, Vandoorne could gain experience and then continue alongside Alonso.