Fernando Alonso says there will be "consequences" for those who spread unfounded rumours this week about him potentially being on his way out of the Aston Martin Formula 1 team.
Social media was awash with stories in recent days about Alonso either switching to Red Bull or being poised for retirement. This was triggered by Spanish TV journalist Albert Fabrega posting a cryptic tweet hinting at a big story developing in the paddock.
While Fabrega never specified what topic the rumour was about, it unleashed a frenzy that it was about a big shake-up in the driver market involving Alonso.
But while talk of the double world champion racing anywhere else other than Aston Martin next year has been totally dismissed, Alonso made clear ahead of the Brazilian Grand Prix that he was unimpressed with the wild speculation.
"It is just rumours, normal paddock rumours, from people that are just trying to make fun of it and gain some followers, and these kinds of things," he said when asked about the situation.
"But I'm not into that game."
Alonso declared that he felt the actions of some in spreading the speculation were not correct, as he told a media briefing that he took a dim view of what had happened.
"I am not enjoying [it] because even in this room, I appreciate that all of you are journalists, professional people, that have been in F1 for so many years," he said.
"You gain your respect, and this is how it should be. So, all the rumours are coming from people that are not in this room, are just here to make fun and I think it's not funny when they play with anything."
What Alonso explained he was particularly unhappy about was that the links with Red Bull, or that he was losing faith in the Aston Martin project, could prompt some to question his loyalty.
"Of course, that's the thing that they are making, but I will make sure that there are consequences," he said, although he declined to elaborate on exactly what he meant by this.
Nobody happy with current form
While Aston Martin is going through a difficult patch at the moment, having faced its fair share of difficulties since an upgrade arrived at the United States GP, Alonso said that it was important to remember the bigger picture of the progress made by the team this year.
"We are obviously not as competitive as we want it," he said. "And we all try to get to our best level, which is obviously not the one that we're showing now.
"But we are analysing some of the upgrades that we brought lately. Here in Brazil, we have a sprint format, so maybe it is a more traditional weekend for us, not experimenting as much as the last two.
"Obviously, we are not happy. Mike [Krack] is not happy, no one is happy with the current form. But at the same time, I said a few races ago, this team was 250 people two years ago, now we are in this transition to be hopefully a contender for the future with 800 people, and a new factory.
"Seven podiums this year, 200 points more than last year, all these kinds of things which are not the current form. We should not be happy, but we cannot even be too dramatic about the situation when this 2023 campaign has been a super season for us."
Additional reporting by Adam Cooper