McLaren optimistic Fernando Alonso will stay in 2018

Alonso hit with another grid penalty (2:51)

Laurence Edmondson talks to Sam Collins about the issues that have hampered McLaren-Honda at Silverstone. (2:51)

SILVERSTONE -- McLaren is confident Fernando Alonso will remain with the team in 2018 following an encouraging dinner meeting between senior management and the Spaniard ahead of the British Grand Prix.

Alonso's future has been the subject of intense debate ever since Honda's third consecutive uncompetitive and unreliable power unit was rolled out in winter testing. Despite being held in high regard by pundits and his peers, his prospects away from McLaren do not look good, with Renault seemingly the only other likely destination in Formula One.

Uncertainty over his future, and Alonso's decision to skip this year's Monaco Grand Prix to compete with McLaren at the Indy 500, has also prompted speculation of a sabbatical, with the 2019 driver market likely to be wider open. Team executive director Brown is hopeful Alonso will be staying put next year.

"We had a great dinner with Fernando -- and he even picked up the bill," Brown said. "We have a good understanding with Fernando, and he loves the environment. Stoffel [Vandoorne] is also doing a great job, given very difficult circumstances for a rookie, so I like where we are on the driver front."

Pushed on how he rated Alonso's chances of being in F1 next year, Brown replied: "Very good."

He also played down the suggestion Alonso could return to the States in order to complete a full season of IndyCar in 2018.

"I think he loved IndyCar. He definitely wants to go back and do the Indy 500 when the time is right, but he has made it very clear that he wants to be in F1 next year. I think the chances of him being in IndyCar next year are highly unlikely. I think the chances of him being in IndyCar at some point are maybe as much as likely."