Although Fernando Alonso is not expected to be racing in Formula 1 next year, McLaren will be tapping into the Spaniard’s vast experience for advice and may even rope him in to test the MCL34 in 2019.
Team chief Zak Brown told media in Abu Dhabi, “Fernando’s extremely intelligent, very experienced, loves Formula 1, loves race tracks. If he’s not at a WEC race or not at a Formula 1 race he’s at an IndyCar race or is in go-kart tracks so I think we’ll have a hard time keeping him away from the race track.”
“He likes the engineering and development side. He wants to know what’s going on, not just tell me where I need to be at the race track. So I think you’ll see him around McLaren, he remains part of the family.”
Asked if Alonso would test their 2019 car, Brown replied, “Yeah, I wouldn’t rule that out.”
Another Spaniard, Carlos Sainz, replaces Alonso at Woking. The pair know each other well, the younger driver was inspired by the older during his junior years. They remain close in a protege/ mentor kind of way.
Brown believes Alonso can help their 2019 drivers, Sainz and rookie Lando Norris, “I think where his influence comes in is helping our two drivers.”
“He knows Carlos pretty well, he’s got to know Lando very well so I think there’ll be a big benefit of his experience there, and then with the engineers, just helping us all work together and understand what next year’s car is doing, and the feedback from the drivers, what would Fernando do in a certain situation, I think that experience will be very valuable to us.”
Next year Alonso will focus on the final three WEC races of the SuperSeason which he is contesting with Toyota Gazoo Racing and will drive for McLaren at next year’s Indy 500. But beyond that there is no F1 related deal in place yet.
Brown said, “We’re still working through… we know we’re doing Indianapolis together. We’d like him to be part of our racing program because we’re also reviewing other forms of motorsport which has been widely noted, World Endurance, a full season of IndyCar, and he’s certainly not done driving.”
“We’re working through what a longer term relationship could look like,” added the McLaren team chief.