formula one

‘After they take decisions, I will take mine’: Alonso gives McLaren chance to make him a winner

The frustrated two-time world champion has been making noises all season about quitting the British team.

Fernando Alonso on Thursday said he’d give McLaren a chance to settle their plans before making a decision about his future – but warned that he wouldn’t stick around in a losing car.

The frustrated two-time world champion has been making noises all season about quitting the British team, who are widely expected to dump their misfiring Honda engines and go with Renault instead.

Alonso’s car has failed to complete six races this season, and his best finish so far is sixth. He said he had “many options” both inside and outside of Formula One, but added that “very good news is coming”.

“Whatever I do next year is because I want to win. I will not be around in any series to be fighting for top 10 or top 15,” he told reporters ahead of the Singapore Grand Prix.

“There are many options out there that I’m looking at. Formula One is my first and only priority so I will wait to make a decision on that before making decisions on other series.

“At the same time I want to give time to my team. After the last three years, the struggles we went through together, to have time for them to make decisions, to see the future, next year’s car. And after they take decisions I will take mine.”

Alonso’s comments appear to hint that he will stay at McLaren next year if they axe Honda, which is strongly rumoured to happen before Sunday’s race.

Alonso, 36, is one of the oldest drivers on the grid, and he also hankers after becoming only the second man after Graham Hill to complete motorsport’s Triple Crown – winning the Monaco Grand Prix, Indy 500 and Le Mans.

‘Game of chess’

Alonso last year skipped Monaco to race the Indy 500 but he seemed hopeful that he would contest the famous street grand prix next season.

“If I remain in Formula One it is because I can believe that I can win next year. So that will make the decision a lot easier because I will be in Monaco because I won’t want to lose any points,” he said.

“The priority is Formula One... and the Triple Crown is in the background. I’m waiting for my current team to make their decisions and after that, to negotiate.”

He added: “For my fans and for motorsport lovers, they will have a fantastic 2018 season. The plan is ongoing and very good news is coming.”

Alonso last month denied telling McLaren he’d quit if they don’t ditch Honda. Multiple reports say Honda will open a partnership with Toro Rosso, whose driver Carlos Sainz is tipped to join Renault as part of the deal.

Sainz said he couldn’t comment on the rumours but he added: “My ambition is to try and be a world champion one day. Whatever path there is, I will take the shortest path.”

World championship leader Lewis Hamilton, who has won two of his three drivers’ titles since leaving McLaren for Mercedes in 2013, said: “Formula One is like a game of chess.

“It’s really about picking your moves at the right time and hopefully you have enough options.”

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“My body instantly craves chai and samosa”

German expats talk about adapting to India, and the surprising similarities between the two cultures.

The cultural similarities between Germany and India are well known, especially with regards to the language. Linguists believe that Sanskrit and German share the same Indo-Germanic heritage of languages. A quick comparison indeed holds up theory - ratha in Sanskrit (chariot) is rad in German, aksha (axle) in Sanskrit is achse in German and so on. Germans have long held a fascination for Indology and Sanskrit. While Max Müller is still admired for his translation of ancient Indian scriptures, other German intellectuals such as Goethe, Herder and Schlegel were deeply influenced by Kalidasa. His poetry is said to have informed Goethe’s plays, and inspired Schlegel to eventually introduce formal Indology in Germany. Beyond the arts and academia, Indian influences even found their way into German fast food! Indians would recognise the famous German curry powder as a modification of the Indian masala mix. It’s most popular application is the currywurst - fried sausage covered in curried ketchup.

It is no wonder then that German travellers in India find a quite a lot in common between the two cultures, even today. Some, especially those who’ve settled here, even confess to Indian culture growing on them with time. Isabelle, like most travellers, first came to India to explore the country’s rich heritage. She returned the following year as an exchange student, and a couple of years later found herself working for an Indian consultancy firm. When asked what prompted her to stay on, Isabelle said, “I love the market dynamics here, working here is so much fun. Anywhere else would seem boring compared to India.” Having cofounded a company, she eventually realised her entrepreneurial dream here and now resides in Goa with her husband.

Isabelle says there are several aspects of life in India that remind her of home. “How we interact with our everyday life is similar in both Germany and India. Separate house slippers to wear at home, the celebration of food and festivals, the importance of friendship…” She feels Germany and India share the same spirit especially in terms of festivities. “We love food and we love celebrating food. There is an entire countdown to Christmas. Every day there is some dinner or get-together,” much like how Indians excitedly countdown to Navratri or Diwali. Franziska, who was born in India to German parents, adds that both the countries exhibit the same kind of passion for their favourite sport. “In India, they support cricket like anything while in Germany it would be football.”

Having lived in India for almost a decade, Isabelle has also noticed some broad similarities in the way children are brought up in the two countries. “We have a saying in South Germany ‘Schaffe Schaffe Hausle baue’ that loosely translates to ‘work, work, work and build a house’. I found that parents here have a similar outlook…to teach their children to work hard. They feel that they’ve fulfilled their duty only once the children have moved out or gotten married. Also, my mother never let me leave the house without a big breakfast. It’s the same here.” The importance given to the care of the family is one similarity that came up again and again in conversations with all German expats.

While most people wouldn’t draw parallels between German and Indian discipline (or lack thereof), Germans married to Indians have found a way to bridge the gap. Take for example, Ilka, who thinks that the famed differences of discipline between the two cultures actually works to her marital advantage. She sees the difference as Germans being highly planning-oriented; while Indians are more flexible in their approach. Ilka and her husband balance each other out in several ways. She says, like most Germans, she too tends to get stressed when her plans don’t work out, but her husband calms her down.

Consequently, Ilka feels India is “so full of life. The social life here is more happening; people smile at you, bond over food and are much more relaxed.” Isabelle, too, can attest to Indians’ friendliness. When asked about an Indian characteristic that makes her feel most at home, she quickly answers “humour.” “Whether it’s a taxi driver or someone I’m meeting professionally, I’ve learnt that it’s easy to lighten the mood here by just cracking a few jokes. Indians love to laugh,” she adds.

Indeed, these Germans-who-never-left as just diehard Indophiles are more Indian than you’d guess at first, having even developed some classic Indian skills with time. Ilka assures us that her husband can’t bargain as well as she does, and that she can even drape a saree on her own.

Isabelle, meanwhile, feels some amount of Indianness has seeped into her because “whenever its raining, my body instantly craves chai and samosa”.

Like the long-settled German expats in India, the German airline, Lufthansa, too has incorporated some quintessential aspects of Indian culture in its service. Recognising the centuries-old cultural affinity between the two countries, Lufthansa now provides a rich experience of Indian hospitality to all flyers on board its flights to and from India. You can expect a greeting of Namaste by an all-Indian crew, Indian food, and popular Indian in-flight entertainment options. And as the video shows, India’s culture and hospitality have been internalized by Lufthansa to the extent that they are More Indian Than You Think. To experience Lufthansa’s hospitality on your next trip abroad, click here.

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This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Lufthansa as part of their More Indian Than You Think initiative and not by the Scroll editorial team.