The door is open for Fernando Alonso to join McLaren’s IndyCar venture in 2020, despite the Spaniard previously indicating little interest in joining the series full time.
Earlier this week, McLaren announced a partnership with Schmidt Peterson Racing for a full-time assault on IndyCar next season.
It encouraged rumours of a return for Alonso, who competed with McLaren in the 2017 Indianapolis 500 before failing to qualify for this year’s race.
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Alonso recently wrapped up a hugely successful stint with Toyota, which included the 2018-19 World Endurance Championship crown and two Le Mans 24 Hour wins. However, the two-time Formula 1 world champion indicated he is “100 percent” of a WEC return in the future.
The 38-year-old appears set on another big career move, with Alonso entertaining the prospect of tackling the Dakar Rally next January.
He currently has no active racing program.
Rumours surfaced after this year’s event that Alonso had severed ties with McLaren following their failure to qualify, but organisation CEO Zak Brown shot them down.
Whether or not he tackles a full-time IndyCar season remains to be seen, but Brown believes Alonso would be “outstanding” on the oval racing circuit.
“He’s well aware of everything that’s going on with our IndyCar activities and has been for some time,” Brown said.
“I don’t think his desire to win the Indy 500 has diminished at all. He has not shown an interest – yet, I should say – in a full season of IndyCar.
“He’s coming off of 20 years of lots of racing and I think he wanted to take the second half of this year off to see what he wants to do in the future.
“I think he would be an outstanding talent in IndyCar.
“I personally think, knowing him as well as I do, and his driving style, he’d be immensely successful and welcomed and would enjoy it.
“But Fernando is the type of individual that you put the opportunity in front of him and let him make his decision.
“So I’ll be picking that up with him in about a month’s time, but I would not anticipate in 2020 him having a desire to do a full season.”
Current Schmidt Peterson Racing driver James Hinchcliffe also faces an uncertain future due to his relationship with Honda, with the re-branded McLaren Schmidt Peterson team to run Chevrolet engines in 2020.
The F1 silly season also garnered attention to Alonso, whose name was raised following the Hungarian Grand Prix.
After Alonso tweeted following the race, praising the battle between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen, the podium finishers — also including Sebastian Vettel — were informed of Alonso’s comment in the post-race news conference.
Hamilton suggested he had an idea for how Alonso could get back on the grid: take the “extra” seat at Red Bull following rumours of Pierre Gasly’s axing.
Unsurprisingly, it was confirmed Monday that Gasly had been dropped from Red Bull’s line-up in favour of Toro Rosso rookie Alexander Albon.