August 31, 2017 / 6:09 PM / a year ago

Motor racing: Alonso denies giving McLaren Honda ultimatum

MONZA, Italy (Reuters) - Fernando Alonso has denied telling McLaren to choose between him and Honda as the Spaniard considers his future with the Formula One team.

Formula One - F1 - Italian Grand Prix 2017 - Monza, Italy - August 31, 2017 McLaren's Fernando Alonso REUTERS/Max Rossi

The two-times world champion also dismissed media speculation that he retired from last weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix without there being anything technically wrong with his car’s power unit.

Some reports this week suggested that Alonso had run out of patience after three years of unreliable and under-powered engines and had told McLaren he would leave if they stayed with Honda.

“Absolutely not true,” the Spaniard, who won his titles with Renault more than a decade ago, told reporters at the Italian Grand Prix on Thursday.

“I have absolutely not decided. More than anything I’m not bigger than a team,” added the 36-year-old, who has said he will decide his future in September. His current contract expires at the end of the season.

McLaren have sounded out Renault and have also indicated they would support Honda moving to Red Bull-owned Toro Rosso.

Honda said after Spa that they could find nothing wrong with Alonso’s race engine but the driver expressed surprise that anyone could suggest he had faked a failure.

“It seems people forget that I’m racing here for three years, giving my maximum ... I tried to race with a broken rib in Bahrain,” he said, explaining that sensors had started to fail and something had felt wrong.

“We retired the car and they checked the whole engine and it seems everything is fine ... so we will try to fit that engine tomorrow (in second practice). If it blows up we will change it,” he said.

Alonso expects to start Sunday’s race at the back of the grid due to penalties for further engine changes.

Regarding his future, he said he would start discussing with the team and Honda their expectations for next year and look at what was on the table.

“I think we do have now some ingredients to be champions,” he said. “I think the team did improve a lot in the last three years ... I think we have the talent in the team, we have the facilities.

“We just miss (being) more competitive. We will see what the numbers are saying for next year and after that try to make a decision.”

Asked whether he thought Honda could be competitive in the short term, he replied: “I think you never know.

“It could be possible. Why not?”

Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Neville Dalton

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