No F1, but McLaren open-minded on Fernando Alonso 2020 role

Fernando Alonso portrait

McLaren chief Zak Brown has ruled Fernando Alonso out of a direct Formula 1 role with the team in 2020 but says he is “open-minded” about maintaining their partnership.

Alonso raced for McLaren in Formula 1 for five years across two stints but departed a race seat at the end of 2018, though remained affiliated this year through an ambassadorial role.

Alonso sampled McLaren’s MCL34 during in-season testing in Bahrain earlier this year and drove its IndyCar operation’s one-car entry for its disastrous Indianapolis 500 attempt.

Alonso has yet to define full 2020 plans beyond his Dakar Rally entry with Toyota, having departed the Japanese marque’s World Endurance Championship team.

He will not compete for McLaren full-time in IndyCar after the team recruited youngsters Pato O’Ward and Oliver Askew.

“We’ll have a conversation about what the future may or may not look like,” said Brown.

“We’ve got an IndyCar team now, we continue to look at WEC. We’ve got Mika Hakkinen on a long-term contract as an ambassador.

“I think we’ll sit down with Fernando at the end of the year and just talk about what does he want to do moving forward, what do we want to do moving forward, and is there something there working together that makes sense.

“I think he’s an immense talent. I’ve got a really good relationship with him, and I think with the different racing activities that we’re doing, if there’s something that we have that makes sense to put Fernando in a car, I still think he’s one of the fastest drivers in the world.

“We’re set with our direction in Formula 1 with our current drivers, but depending on what other activities are, very open minded continuing a relationship with Fernando.”

McLaren has Carlos Sainz Jr. and Lando Norris under contract for its 2020 race seats.

It can call upon Sergey Sirotkin as reserve – who also occupies the same position at McLaren – while Formula 2 front-runner Sergio Sette Camara acts as test and development driver.