McLaren seized Indy 500 opportunity with Alonso but rule out future F1 return

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McLaren has ruled out welcoming Fernando Alonso back to Formula 1 despite announcing a third Indianapolis 500 bid this May.

On Tuesday, it was confirmed the Spaniard will return to the Brickyard as a third car entry with McLaren's new IndyCar team, Arrow McLaren SP.

But it only came about after Alonso's original plan to team up with the Andretti Autosport team was nixed at the last minute, reportedly due to a veto from engine supplier Honda.

And it was then that CEO Zak Brown pounced, capitalising on a sponsorship deal from mortgage company Ruoff.

"When Fernando and Michael [Andretti] didn’t get a deal put together, Ruoff asked Michael if he would mind them going where Fernando goes because they know he’s going to draw a tremendous amount of attention," he explained to Motorsport.

"Because Michael has all of his title sponsor deals done, he couldn’t offer something as significant as the branding and title sponsorship that Fernando will generate.

"So he gave us his blessing and we have a deal with Ruoff and we’re excited to have them with us for the month of May."

Alonso's experience with McLaren at the Indy 500 last year wasn't a good one, as he failed to qualify following a crash and operational issues.

But Brown was confident this time would be better because he is not a standalone entry.

"Having spoken with Fernando, I think he’s now had one-and-a-half years of experience at Indianapolis, and he likes having very competitive teammates," he added.

"I think Pato [O'Ward] and Oliver [Askew] will be very fast, and he’s very confident in his own abilities and has enough experience in racing that he will be just fine.

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Away from IndyCar, Alonso has also spoken of his wish to return to F1 in 2021, having retired at the end of 2018.

But while McLaren is happy to race with the 38-year-old Stateside, a third stint together in F1 is off the table.

“No. We are in a different place now,” Brown claimed.

“That’s not a reflection on him, we have two great young drivers [Sainz and Norris] who are really fast that are working well together.

“The fans like them and we have a rhythm now and would not want to disturb that. It’s where we are. I am happy with our racing team.

“They are the stars of the sport but everyone is quite relaxed around them. It is a really good environment, I wouldn’t want to disturb that part of the magic that is making everything come together.”

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