McLaren will still have Fernando Alonso on their books in 2019 as the Spaniard has agreed to act as an ambassador for the F1 team. He will also help test and develop the F1 cars.
Alonso, who is currently on an official sabbatical from F1, will continue to be closely associated with McLaren for at least another two years.
Having ‘retired’ from Formula 1 at the end of 2018, Alonso dropped in on Formula 1 testing in Barcelona on Tuesday. This was on the same day where confirmation came through that the Spaniard will race with the number 66 on his Indycar when he enters the Indy 500 with McLaren this May.
According to the team, Alonso will act as an ambassador in a ‘wide-ranging’ agreement that will see him help and advise the team’s engineers and drivers. He will also keep his foot in the door with F1 driving by taking part in ‘selected’ tests throughout 2019 & 2020 to help develop the current F1 cars. McLaren will also retain Mika Hakkinen in his long-term ambassador role, although Mika is long out of the driving game.
“Becoming a McLaren ambassador is a true honour.” said Alonso as he was swarmed by fans in the Barcelona paddock.”It is a special team, and despite the challenges we have endured recently, it remains so. I said before I stopped racing in Formula 1 last year that I see myself with McLaren for a long-time to come, so I am delighted at this new role and the ability to stay closely involved with the team I feel is my spiritual home.”
“We have the Indianapolis 500 in May of course, which I am looking forward to immensely, but this is just the beginning of many things we can do together. I am particularly passionate about nurturing young talent, whether that’s with my own team or helping the new generation of Formula 1 drivers at McLaren unlock their true potential. This is important to both the team and myself, so will be an especially rewarding part of my role.”
Alonso will attempt to become motorsport’s most contemporary winner of the ‘Triple Crown’ of motorsport in May when he races the McLaren Indy 500 effort. Having won the Monaco Grand Prix and the Le Mans 24 Hours, ticking off the Indy race would make Alonso the first man since Graham Hill to do the near-impossible task.
“Fernando is part of the McLaren family.” said Zak Brown, CEO of McLaren. “He has set his place in the team’s history and continues to write his chapter of the McLaren story, so it is entirely appropriate that we formalise his status as a McLaren ambassador, joining another double champion, Mika Häkkinen.
“For any race team, having someone of Fernando’s class on hand to provide support through his experience is of huge value. His insights and perspective will be welcomed by both our drivers and engineers alike, while his stature and character remain highly appealing to our partners and fans.”