Alonso could test 2019 McLaren

Most will fully sympathise with Fernando Alonso and his decision to turn his back on F1 following four difficult seasons at McLaren.

Though the Spaniard is returning to Indianapolis next year, with a dedicated McLaren programme behind him, his plans for the rest of the year are not yet known.

Insisting that the Spaniard will continue to have an important role in the McLaren family, Zak Brown doesn’t rule out Alonso testing the team’s 2019 F1 contender, the MCL34.

“I wouldn’t rule that out,” the American tells the official F1 website. “We’re still working through what the plan is… we know we’re doing Indianapolis together.

“We’d like him to be part of our racing programme because we’re also reviewing other forms of motorsport which has been widely noted,” hr continued, “World Endurance, full season of IndyCar, and he’s certainly not done driving. So yeah we’re working through what a longer term relationship could look like.”

However, in terms of the two-time champion making an early return to the F1 grid, Brown said: “Well we’ve got two race car drivers… so until we’re allowed to enter a third car I think it would be difficult to put him in a race team.

“We’ve got Carlos and Lando who are both very excited and under contract, so there are no race seats available. If he wants to test the car we’re certainly open minded to get his feedback on the car and you kind of cross that bridge if he makes that phone call. But there’s not a seat.

“Fernando’s extremely intelligent, very experienced, loves Formula 1, loves race tracks,” said the American. “If he’s not at a WEC race or not at a Formula 1 race he’s at an IndyCar race or is on go-kart tracks so I think we’ll have a hard time keeping him away from the race track.

“He likes the engineering development side, he’s not one of these drivers ‘just give me the steering wheel and I’ll drive’, he likes the whole group. Indianapolis was an example. He wants to know what’s going on, not just tell me where I need to be at the race track.

“I think you’ll see him around McLaren, he remains part of the family, so 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.

“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’s 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.”

On the other hand, with some feeing the Spaniard already exerts too much influence at McLaren, the family could ultimately find his presence somewhat disruptive.