McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown has played down the chance of Fernando Alonso returning to the team to drive its 2019 Formula 1 car during the upcoming pre-season tests.

Brown previously said towards the end of last season that McLaren would be open to the possibility of the double world champion getting some track time in its MCL34 prior to the start of the upcoming campaign. 

But during McLaren’s unveiling of its latest F1 challenger on Thursday, the team said it was planning to run new drivers Carlos Sainz and rookie Lando Norris across both tests at Barcelona.   

“Right now we’re taking testing one day at a time and focusing on our racing drivers,” Brown replied when asked about the likelihood of Alonso featuring. 

“Anytime you are going into pre-season testing and you are doing everything for reliability and performance, you kind of have a set plan but you work a day at a time.” 

Brown did not rule out a reserve driver role for Alonso during 2019, though he added McLaren has a “variety” of options should it need one. 

Carlos Sainz, Lando Norris, McLaren, MCL34,

Formula 2 driver Sergio Sette Camara was signed as a reserve driver at the end of 2018, though the Brazilian does not currently have enough points to qualify for a superlicence, while Nyck de Vries - who is eligible for a superlicence - has not been handed a role within the team despite his long-term association as a McLaren junior. 

“Fernando is still part of the team with our Indy 500 project,” he explained. “Gil ultimately leads our kind of driver plan so we have a few plans in directions that we could go if we need a reserve driver. 

“I think we will probably stop short of announcing a reserve driver but I think there is a variety of drivers out there that if we need someone on short notice could fill that role.”