We’re only two races in to the new Formula One season, but already it’s clear that Fernando Alonso is set for another year labouring down the order.
While old rivals Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel gear up for a title battle, two-time champion Alonso is stuck with another dud of a car from McLaren, and in particular, engine supplier Honda.
The Japanese outfit have again failed to get to grips with the turbo regulations, and Alonso has failed to finish both races so far.
Former Grand Prix winner and close Alonso friend, Mark Webber, claimed after the opening race in Australia that Alonso could quit McLaren mid-season.
It’s not known whether the 35-year-old holds any performance clauses in his current three-year contract, but either way, it comes to an end this season.
The Spaniard isn’t known for his patience however, and we make it just 4/1 for Alonso to ditch the Woking-based team before the year is out.
The next question of course is, where will he go?
He could in theory, join Hamilton at all-conquering Mercedes. Valtteri Bottas is only on a single-year deal with the German outfit.
But with the chances of that happening dashed by none other than Hamilton himself last weekend, it seems unlikely.
The other option then, is a return to Ferrari.
Alonso first joined the Scuderia in 2010, and was denied a dream title that year by a disastrous tactical call from the team in the season-ending race in Abu Dhabi.
And aside from another near-miss two years later, Alonso’s five seasons with the Maranello outfit were largely unsuccessful.
But now they appear back on track, and Vettel is just 13/8 to win this year’s title.
The German won’t be going anywhere anytime soon, but the other seat could be up for grabs.
Kimi Raikkonen has come in for some early-season flack following a lacklustre start to the campaign, and the Finn is also the oldest man on the grid, turning 38-years-old this year.
Could Alonso replace the 2007 world champion as he did in 2010? We make it a very plausible 3/1 to happen.
A final option of course, could be a return to Renault, where he won his two world championships in 2005 and 2006.
The French outfit made a return as manufacturer last season, and have made clear they are taking things step by step.
They did the same back in 2002, before landing those two titles with Alonso.
It’s not known if their budget would extend to it (Honda pay a substantial percentage of Alonso’s retainer for McLaren), but if Renault are to win again, they would greatly boost their chances by signing a top-line driver.
Alonso is soon to be available and we go 5/1 the move is done for next year.
Certainly if Honda fail to make progress in the next few months, they and McLaren have no hope of keeping their frustrated star on board beyond 2017.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing