McLaren Formula 1 chief Zak Brown is open to Fernando Alonso testing the team’s 2019 car, and expects the Spaniard to remain a key member of its racing activities.

Alonso will make his final F1 start in Abu Dhabi this weekend before leaving the sport in order to pursue other racing interests, but will remain part of the McLaren family, racing for the team at next year’s Indianapolis 500.

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While McLaren will field rookie Lando Norris alongside current Renault driver Carlos Sainz Jr. in its race seats next year, Brown is confident Alonso will remain involved with its F1 interests.

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

“I think you’ll see him around McLaren. He remains part of the family, so I think where his influence will come in is in helping our two drivers. He knows Carlos pretty well, he’s got to know Lando very well, so I think there’ll be a big benefit of his experience there.

“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.”

Asked by Crash.net if Alonso could test the 2019 car, Brown said: “Yeah, I wouldn’t rule that out.”

Alonso joked on Thursday that he may be “desperate” to return to F1 by next spring, but Brown said he doubted the Spaniard would make a grand prix appearance for McLaren next year.

“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,” Brown said.

“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."

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