Alonso's McLaren breaks again, Mercedes soars in practice

McLaren driver Fernando Alonso of Spain left pauses

Fernando Alonso has exit strategy from McLaren if F1 team continues to falter

McLaren executive director Zak Brown backed Fernando Alonso's decision to leave the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya to play tennis after stopping during FP1 on Friday.

Fernando Alonso: "Obviously, it's not an ideal start to the weekend as we completely missed the first practice session because of an engine problem".

No sooner had those words been digested than the team hit an embarrassing new low in Friday practice for the Spanish GP, Alonso's home race, when his auto broke down on its installation lap.

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Alonso's home fans had barely settled in their seats for practice at the Spanish Grand Prix before his car's Honda engine blew in a mess of smoke and oil. I understand very much, and it's been clear from day one, if we are not competitive then he will go away.

"I like this F1", he said of the new breed of machinery. It's the first time that I've had a Friday this season without any big problems - we ran through our programme without any big issues, so that was good. I believe that on other weekends we have had trouble-free Fridays and Saturdays only to not finish the race on Sunday.

The 35-year-old is flying straight to America after the Spanish Grand Prix on Sunday to start practice for the Indy 500 on Monday.

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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. When we complete my full last lap in a Formula 1 auto which was on the Saturday in Russian Federation because on Sunday we didn't manage to complete the formation lap and here we could not manage to complete the out lap. The vehicle went out in a huge cloud of smoke, and it just kept dumping fluids as recovery workers tried to lift the dead McLaren out of the way. And with Kimi Raikkonen struggling to consistently match the pace of Sebastian Vettel, rumors of an Alonso return to Ferrari are beginning to grow.

"We've brought quite a few upgrades to this race, but at the moment it's different to judge any of them individually", said Vandoorne.

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen, who won the race a year ago at 18 to make history as the youngest victor, and Daniel Ricciardo were next. We've given him a great environment, he really enjoys it here - we've got to give him a winning vehicle. It's so unreliable, he hasn't yet finished a race in 2017, and so slow, his best qualifying result has been P13.

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"If from here to September/October we are in a position where we see clearly a possibility to win in 2018, I will be more than happy to stay with the team".

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