Fernando Alonso spent more time on the tennis court than driving his ailing McLaren on Friday, with his tilt at the Indy 500 looking ever more inviting after another dark day on the Formula One racetrack. "It blew up after 400 metres", Alonso told reporters after returning for the second 90-minute practice session. "Completely unacceptable", Alonso said, while ominously adding that he still didn't know what had caused the breakdown in Sochi.
The two-time Formula One champion has yet to finish a race this season due to reliability issues with his auto and its troublesome Honda engine.
Two-time champion Fernando Alonso said he will be open to offers from rival teams if McLaren continues to struggle next season.
Alonso slipped away from the track and played some paddle tennis to "keep the body active" while mechanics changed out his car's engine before the afternoon session, when he was the last of the 20 drivers to venture out.
Honda is still investigating the exact cause of Alonso's failure, and its F1 engine chief Yusuke Hasegawa explained that an order for the Spaniard to stop the auto after telemetry data showed a warning came too late. "I think that next week when we start the free practice with other people around I will build confidence and my understanding of what the auto needs".
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The latest blow comes a day after Alonso issued an ultimatum: Either McLaren gives him a competitive auto by October or he will look to change teams or consider leaving F1. Alonso has already made a decision to try his luck at the Indianapolis 500 instead of the Monaco GP later this month. He endured the embarrassment of having to abandon the Russian GP last round when his vehicle broke down on the formation lap.
And despite two weeks to work on the auto, McLaren has made no progress. Hamilton lowered his own best lap time after lunch, with Bottas only 0.090 seconds slower. If, before September or October, l see a possibility that we are in a position to win in 2018, l will be more than happy to stay with the team.
He said he hoped that the engine would prove reliable in the race - the reverse of what has happened to him at previous grands prix this year.
"We've brought quite a few upgrades to this race, but at the moment it's different to judge any of them individually. He [Alonso] looked to be on a tennis court so I'm happy with that".
Practice will resume on Saturday before qualifying for Sunday's race.