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McLaren unconcerned by hectic Alonso schedule in 2018

Written by  Feb 06, 2018

McLaren racing director Eric Boullier insists the team has no concerns about Fernando Alonso's busy 2018 schedule, as the Spaniard combines Formula 1 with WEC.

As well as the 21 races on this year's F1 calendar, the double world champion will have as many as five endurance rounds, including the program around the Le Mans 24 Hours, and testing with Toyota.

When the agreement was announced a week ago, McLaren was keen to stress that F1 would be his priority but Boullier revealed actually the 36-year-old had competed in events for the majority of weekends last year.

"Fernando is a professional sportsman who is able to prepare for this", the Frenchman told L'Equipe when asked about his 2018 schedule.

"Last year, Fernando raced on 34 weekends, competing under different names in karting and other series. It's what he likes to do."

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The McLaren chief also denied his interest to race elsewhere was a consequence of the Woking outfit's recent problems and actually believes it is a positive for Alonso to be regularly behind the wheel with testing in F1 now largely limited to simulators.

"We are in a sport where the driving is reduced more and more in order to lower costs," Boullier pointed out, "But the drivers understand that the more they drive, even if it is in other categories, the more they keep up the practice.

"As a boss, I like this argument. If you are constantly racing, you have less temptations and fewer distractions."

Meanwhile, current McLaren third driver Lando Norris, who recently competed alongside Alonso at the Rolex Daytona 24, has admitted his F1 career prospects likely depend on how much longer the 17-year veteran of the sport continues.

"I would say so, but I couldn't really say what they are thinking," he told Autosport. "I think they are happy with Stoffel [Vandoorne] and it is quite early in his career."

The young Briton also concedes, however, he isn't prepared to wait too long before considering options elsewhere.

"Obviously my aim is to be at McLaren, but if I can't get a drive here, then I have to look at other opportunities," he said.

"If they say 'We're not really going to have a drive [available] for three years' or something, then it is obvious that I am going to have to go elsewhere. But if it is just one year, I think I'll still stick with McLaren and deal with one year out."

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