Fernando Alonso could still test the McLaren 2019 car despite not racing in Formula 1 next year, according to Zak Brown.
This weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be Alonso’s final race in F1, with the Spaniard not racing in the category next year as he completes his World Endurance Championship campaign with Toyota and also returns to the Indianapolis 500. However, Alonso has not ruled out a return to F1 in future and will retain McLaren ties, meaning Brown can see him having input into the 2019 project.
“Fernando’s extremely intelligent, very experienced, loves Formula 1, loves racetracks,” Brown said. “If he’s not at a WEC race or not at a Formula 1 race he’s at an IndyCar race or is at go-kart tracks, so I think we’ll have a hard time keeping him away from the race track.
“He likes the engineering development side, he’s not one of these drivers, ‘Just give me the steering wheel and I’ll drive,’ he likes the whole group. Indianapolis together was an example. He wants to know what’s going on, not just tell me where I need to be at the racetrack.
“So I think you’ll see him around McLaren — he remains part of the family, so I think where his influence comes in is 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.
“And 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.”
When it was specifically suggested that Alonso could test the 2019 car to provide extra feedback, Brown replied: “Yeah, I wouldn’t rule that out.”
While Brown says he is still working with Alonso regarding his future driving plans, he says he is not overly involved in helping secure specific seats for the two-time world champion.
“We’re still working through things. We know we’re doing Indianapolis together. We’d like him to be part of our racing program because we’re also reviewing other forms of motorsport, which has been widely noted — World Endurance, full season of IndyCar — and he’s certainly not done driving. So yeah, we’re working through what a longer-term relationship could look like.
“Fernando’s a good friend of McLaren, obviously, and of myself. I like motor racing. We get along very well. I think we’re two racers. My focus is McLaren. My focus is what Fernando can do with McLaren. But he’s asked me questions as do other drivers when they have interest in forms of racing and they have a lot of friends in the sport, so I give him my advice if he asks for it, make introductions for him if he asks for it but nothing that I’m actively doing. He has his own manager.”