McLaren endured a nightmare start to the new Formula 1 season this weekend, with former world champion Alonso suffering suspension failure late during the Australian Grand Prix to cost him a surprise points finish. His team-mate, Stoffel Vandoorne, meanwhile finished last.
And now Webber, who has a famously good relationship with the Spaniard, has suggested Alonso could walk out on the team if the MCL32’s reliability issues continue.
“Maybe Fernando is not going to be at McLaren for the whole year” Webber told the Belgian news agency Sporza. “Fernando might not do the whole year. He's frustrated like hell, he doesn't even want to finish seventh or sixth.
“[His situation] is not like Stoffel Vandoorne’s. Maybe points for him is quite nice. But Fernando is not interested in points, he wants to be fighting for podiums.
“So mentally he's a long, long way away from where he wants to be.”
McLaren’s Honda-powered cars suffered from a severely underwhelming winter testing series, with the team beset by slow times as well as an assortment of reliability problems.
These problems unsurprisingly reared their head in Australia on the first race weekend of the season, with Alonso suffering from a suspension problem only a few laps from the finish, to ruin a points finish.
And after the race, a brutally frank Alonso left reporters with no doubt as to the depth of McLaren’s problems.
“I think we are last,” Alonso replied when asked about McLaren’s place in the current Formula 1 pecking order.
“That's the performance we have now. We were 10th (today) because the qualifying lap we had yesterday was extremely good.
“The start, I was lucky to gain one position and the (Romain) Grosjean retirement gave us the second one.
“So I think in normal conditions in the normal circuit we should be last.”
Alonso’s retirement was particularly disappointing considering how impressive his drive had been up until that point.
The Spaniard had managed to keep himself in 10th position for the majority of the race despite the Force India driver Esteban Ocon – positioned one place behind him – enjoying a 27km/h advantage on the straight.
“Fernando’s car suffered a damaged left-front brake duct early on, but he nonetheless drove a prodigiously impressive race,” McLaren-Honda racing director Eric Boullier conceded at the end of the weekend.
“He wrung every last tenth-of-a-second from a compromised car on every lap, and at one stage a points finish looked to be a possibility for him.
“From here we'll return to Woking and Sakura, where our development work will continue with relentless intensity, with regard to chassis and power unit alike, in an effort to improve MCL32 for the Shanghai-Bahrain double-header in a fortnight's time.”