McLaren will open talks with Fernando Alonso over his future soon as the Spaniard nears the end of his current contract – but will not consider him for a return to Formula 1.

Alonso quit racing in F1 at the end of last year in order to pursue other interests in motorsport, but remained under contract with McLaren as an ambassador and test driver, sampling its 2019 F1 car in Bahrain earlier this year.

Alonso featured for McLaren in its failed attempt to qualify for the Indianapolis 500 back in May, but has now shifted his focus to his debut in the Dakar Rally with Toyota in January.

Speaking in Austin last week, McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown confirmed talks would be starting soon to define Alonso’s future with the team.

“Well at the end of this year, we’ll have a conversation about what the future may or may not look like.” Brown said. “We’ve got an IndyCar team now, we continue to look at WEC.

“We’ve got Mika Hakkinen on a long-term contract as an ambassador, so I think we’ll sit down with Fernando at the end of the year and just talk about what does he want to do moving forward, what do we want to do moving forward, and is there something there working together that makes sense.”

But when asked if this could include an F1 seat for Alonso, Brown replied: “No.”

McLaren is evaluating a third-car entry to the Indy 500 in May that Alonso is known to be a consideration for, with the Spaniard looking to complete the ‘triple crown of motorsport’ by winning the race.

Brown said his relationship with Alonso remained as strong as ever, and that McLaren was open-minded about keeping him as part of its wider family.

“You know I think he’s an immense talent. I’ve got a really good relationship with him,” Brown said.

“I think with the different racing activities that we’re doing, if there’s something that we have that makes sense to put Fernando in a car, I still think he’s one of the fastest drivers in the world.

“We’re set with our direction in Formula 1 with our current drivers, but depending on what other activities are, very open minded continuing a relationship with Fernando.”

Additional reporting by Julianne Cerasoli.

 

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