RACE DEBRIEF

    He may have ‘retired’ from Formula 1 racing last year, but Fernando Alonso is to drive at selected F1 tests to support the development of McLaren’s current MCL34 car – as part of his new role as a McLaren Racing ambassador…

    Alonso drove a total of 95 races for McLaren in both 2007 and then again between 2015-2018, before announcing midway through last season that he would step away from Formula 1. His new role will see him back behind the wheel to assist with development of both this year's car and 2020's MCL35, while the team also confirmed that the double world champion will be on hand to advise their current driver line-up of Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris.

    On top of that, Alonso will team up with McLaren for a second attempt at the Indianapolis 500, as he seeks to become only the second driver in history, after Graham Hill, to attain motorsport’s Triple Crown – winning the Formula 1 world championship, the Le Mans 24 Hours as well as the oval racing classic.

    McLAREN: 2019 F1 Team Profile

    “Becoming a McLaren ambassador is a true honour,” said Alonso, who made an appearance at F1 pre-season testing in Barcelona this week in his McLaren team gear. “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.”

    “Fernando is part of the McLaren family,” said Zak Brown, McLaren Racing’s Chief Executive Officer. “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 Hakkinen.

    “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.”

    Pre-season Testing 2019: Fernando Alonso pays a surprise visit