Double world champion Fernando Alonso will race on with McLaren in 2018,
the team said on Thursday in an announcement that finally ended one of
the sagas of the Formula One season.
“I’m extremely proud and happy to be part of the project for next year. The challenge is big,” the 36-year-old Spaniard told reporters at the US Grand Prix. “I am motivated more than ever, and happy to start working for 2018.”
McLaren executive director Zak Brown said the multi-year agreement “allows Fernando to be with us for quite some time”.
“Our desire is that for however long Fernando wants to keep driving, and whatever that is that he wants to keep driving, that he does it with McLaren,” added the American.
Alonso dreams of becoming only the second driver to achieve motorsport’s Triple Crown but needs to win Le Mans and the Indianapolis 500.
He missed the Monaco Grand Prix this year to compete at Indianapolis and Brown said the Spaniard would be able to enter other events when that did not compromise McLaren’s F1 interests.
Le Mans does not clash with any F1 race next year, but Alonso said he had yet to talk to anyone about that. Alonso also said that Daytona was under consideration.
“If I want to prepare Le Mans, maybe there are other possibilities to prepare Le Mans a little bit better than I prepared the Indy 500.”
Brown said Alonso’s new multi-year agreement allows him to race in other events so long as the Formula One team’s activities are not compromised.
“If Fernando wants to do Daytona and we have a seat available, we would put his name on it happily,” said Brown, whose United Autosports team has an entry to that race.
“Zak asked me (about) my ambitions and my plans for the future. So I mentioned the Triple Crown. To be the best driver in the world,” Alonso said back in April when relating how the Indy plan came about.
“I have to either win eight world championships, and have one more than Michael Schumacher, or be winning different series.”
The Triple Crown — variously interpreted as the F1 championship, Le Mans and Indy 500 or the Monaco GP and the same two races — has been achieved only by Briton Graham Hill.
McLaren are currently ninth overall, out of 10 teams, and the season ranks as the worst of Alonso’s career with the exception of his debut year with now-defunct tail-enders Minardi.
He has six retirements in 16 races in 2017 and failed to start in Russia while also missing Monaco to compete at the Indianapolis 500. The Spaniard has scored points only twice.
Max at Red BUll till 2020
Max Verstappen has signed a contract extension keeping him at Red Bull until 2020, the team announced yesterday during practice for the United States Grand Prix.
Verstappen, 20, who last year became the youngest ever winner of a Grand Prix race, said in a statement: “Red Bull has supported me from the very beginning. I’m looking forward to accomplishing more with this team.”
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