Oct.9 (GMM/Inautonews.com) Flavio Briatore has backed Fernando Alonso’s claim that the Spaniard is staying put at McLaren-Honda.

Having lost his temper on the radio at Suzuka, and telling reporters afterwards that he is not sure he will still be in F1 next year, Alonso insisted at Sochi that he will honour his contract to race in 2016 and 2017.

And now, former Renault chief Briatore – still involved in the two-time world champion’s management – has suggested Alonso could even stay at McLaren-Honda beyond 2017.

The flamboyant Italian said he can imagine Alonso on the grid for “four or five years” more.

“His eagerness to win is the same — he is hungry,” Briatore told Italy’s La Gazzetta dello Sport. “He races with the same passion as always although at the moment it is for tenth place.”

He dismissed the significance of Alonso’s Suzuka radio outbursts, even though many suspected the 34-year-old might even have been trying to deliberately breach his long contract.

“It was the result of the excitement of the moment,” Briatore said.

“I know that Ron Dennis has always been the first to be unhappy with the situation they are in, and he will do everything that is possible and is impossible to fix it. Like Honda,” he added.

Briatore also indicated it is unfair to pick on Alonso’s frustration, arguing that “Every driver who is not fortunate enough to have a Mercedes engine has little to celebrate” at present.

He even insisted the decision to leave Ferrari was right, even though the Maranello team is now Mercedes’ closest challenger.

“If he (Alonso) would have stayed at Ferrari he would have finished second yet again,” said Briatore.