Fernando Alonso: Two-time champion says he is "committed" to McLaren

Fernando Alonso
Fernando Alonso is contracted with McLaren until the end of 2017

Fernando Alonso has told staff at his McLaren-Honda team that his "only goal" is to win a third world championship with them.

The Spaniard has been linked to the vacant Mercedes seat alongside Lewis Hamilton in 2017, following world champion Nico Rosberg's retirement.

But on a visit to McLaren's factory in Surrey, he said: "I believe in this project.

"I'm committed and I want to be world champion with McLaren-Honda."

The team announced his remarks on their Twitter account.

Alonso had earlier posted on Instagram a photo he had taken of some of the team's iconic cars in the ground-floor display area at the factory, accompanied by emojis with hearts in their eyes.

The 35-year-old's comments follow an interview his manager Flavio Briatore gave to the Italian newspaper Gazetta dello Sport last week in which he said: "We have an agreement with McLaren and we are going to respect that. It's simple."

Fernando Alonso Instagram post of iconic McLaren model cars
A photo Alonso had taken of some of the team's iconic cars in the ground floor display area at the McLaren factory

Alonso is contracted to McLaren until the end of 2017, the final season of a three-year contract in which he earns a salary of $40m (£31.5m).

Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff said last week that he "had to consider" Alonso as a replacement for Rosberg, who announced his retirement five days after winning his first world title in the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi last month.

But BBC Sport revealed on Sunday that Wolff's number one choice is Williams driver Valtteri Bottas.

Mercedes last week made an offer for the Finn which included a reduction of Williams' engine bill by €10m (£8.3m) - more than half the total amount.

Williams have rejected this initial approach but negotiations are expected to continue this week.

Williams also have the option taking Mercedes reserve driver Pascal Wehrlein as a replacement for Bottas, although that is not a requirement of the deal.

Mercedes are reluctant to promote the German because they feel after just one season in F1 he lacks the experience to score sufficient regular points finishes to help the team win the constructors' championship.

Williams' reluctance to lose Bottas is related to the same issue. Their other driver is the Canadian rookie Lance Stroll and they feel they need a reliable, experienced figure as their lead performer to guarantee points.

Mercedes' problem is that all the potential candidates with sufficient experience and ability are under contract to other teams.

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