McLaren was always where my heart was telling me to stay, says Fernando Alonso. Photo: Eugene Hoshiko/AP

AUSTIN – Two-time world champion Fernando Alonso on Thursday signed a new one-year contract with McLaren in a boost for the struggling Formula One team.

“It’s fantastic to be able to continue my relationship with everybody at McLaren. It was always where my heart was telling me to stay, and I really feel at home here,” the Spaniard announced in a statement.

By penning a deal for the 2018 season, Alonso is pinning his hopes on the famous British marque regaining their winning tradition as they switch from the under-performing Honda power unit to Renault engines.

“McLaren has the technical resource and financial strength to be able to very quickly win races and world championships in F1,” the 36-year-old Alonso said.

“Although the last few years have not been easy, we have never forgotten how to win, and I believe we can achieve that again soon,” added the driver, who won both his world titles in 2005 and 2006 with Renault.

Alonso, who has dabbled in IndyCar, has chosen to stick with the team he joined three years ago rather than accept offers from both inside and outside F1.

He has a long-term goal of becoming only the second driver to complete the Triple Crown – winning the Monaco Grand Prix, Le Mans and the Indy500.

McLaren, who have not won a race since 2012 when Jenson Button triumphed in Brazil, were thrilled at their star driver’s vote of confidence.

“With Fernando, there is no doubt that we have a driver who can help us achieve our goal of winning again in F1 – and, believe me, we are all keen to do that,” said McLaren executive director Zak Brown.

The team’s racing director Eric Boullier added: “Today’s announcement shows that he’s fully committed to racing and winning as a McLaren driver.

“And, while we’ve often shared his frustrations over the past few years, we now feel that we can deliver on our promise to give him a competitive car next season.”

Alonso will once again be teamed up with Belgian Stoffel Vandoorne in 2018.

“With Fernando and Stoffel, we’re lucky to be writing a fresh chapter with what we believe to be the best driver line-up in Formula 1,” commented Boullier.

Ahead of Sunday’s United States Grand Prix in Austin, Alonso is 16th in the driver’s standings after mustering just 10 points, three fewer than Vandoorne.