McLaren and Fernando Alonso have announced that the driver is leaving the team with immediate effect and will be seeking a new drive for 2008.
The decision has been described as mutual – and both sides have managed to put a good face on it, with Alonso saying: “We have had our ups and downs during the season, which has made it extra-challenging for all of us, and it is not a secret that I never really felt at home.”
He has departed from the team on civil terms, dismissing the idea that he had been badly treated: “I know there have been suggestions of favouritism within the team and people say a lot of things in the heat of battle, but in the end I was always provided with an equal opportunity to win.”
Team principal Ron Dennis said: “He is a great driver but for some reason the combination of McLaren-Mercedes and Fernando has not really worked out.
“In the end we reached a stage where none of us could find a way to move forward.”
So, what does the future hold for Alonso?
While this move may be wholly expected, and excellent news for his former team-mate Lewis Hamilton, one of the favourites to sign him are said to be Red Bull.
This has reportedly come about because, as part of the deal, Dennis has specified that he must sign for a privateer rather than a manufacturers’ team, ruling out hot favourites Renault.
The problem is, where’s the vacancy? The team already has two superb drivers in Mark Webber and David Coulthard.
It’s self-evident that anyone able to attract the double world-champion to their team would be biting his hand off.
But which of the Red Bull drivers will have to vacate the car to make way for him?