Alonso to switch to IndyCars fulltime? (5th Update)

At the end of the day, Zak Brown will pay Alonso double what all the drivers in IndyCar are paid combined
At the end of the day, Zak Brown will pay Alonso double what all the drivers in IndyCar are paid combined. When you are pulling 0.32 TV ratings domestically (NBCSN) and your global reach is minuscule, there is no money to pay drivers well

UPDATE This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today. McLaren is “very close" to agreeing a new Formula 1 contract with Fernando Alonso beyond the end of the 2017 season, according to team racing director Eric Boullier.

Speaking to the official F1 website, Boullier expressed his confidence in Alonso staying for 2018, saying a deal was “very close".

“Fernando wants to stay. You can see it in his body language and the way he speaks," Boullier added.

“There are marketing details that have to be sorted out, and that Zak Brown, McLaren executive director is working on."

Alonso has given McLaren an ultimatum - get better engines for 2018 or he is leaving.
Alonso's only hope to win races in 2018 is IndyCar. No race winning seats are available in F1 and he does not need the money

09/01/17 Fernando Alonso might just have to get used to the fact that his days of winning races in Formula 1 are over.

That's the word from NBC Sports Group F1 analyst and former F1 racer David Hobbs.

Speaking on a teleconference call to promote the network's coverage of this weekend's F1 Italian Grand Prix, Hobbs said: "I think we may have seen Fernando have his last Formula 1 win, which is a great disappointment not only to him but to a lot of us fans.

"Fernando is one of the greatest Formula 1 drivers and was on track to win four or five championships. And he ended up with a mere two — mind you, I'd take his two championships anytime."

"Fernando Alonso would have been bitterly disappointed two weeks ago when Kimi Raikkonen was confirmed as driving for Ferrari again (in 2018) because I really do think that he was hoping a drive might appear there for him," Hobbs said. "McLaren-Honda has not performed anything like as well as it should have over the last three seasons.

"And even though Honda are making big noises about the car, the engine improving, I think it's going to be very lucky for it to improve enough for him to win. We may have seen Fernando Alonso's last Formula 1 win."

"I'm not absolutely convinced that we've seen his last win because I wouldn't be surprised if he doesn't find a way if he really feels he has no hope in Formula 1 — which it kind of looks that way, at the moment," Hobbs said. "He's obviously not going to go to Mercedes. He's not going to go to Ferrari, and the McLaren-Honda does not seem to be performing as well. There's talk of him going to Renault, but they are still struggling and would have to make some big improvements to win next year."

Then there's the IndyCar option.

Alonso's Indy 500 experience in May was with Andretti Autosport, a team that just happens to have a driver opening for 2018. Current Andretti driver and 2017 Indy 500 winner Takuma Sato is leaving to join Rahal Letterman Lanigan next season.

"He may well turn his talents to IndyCar, which he did earlier this year with the Indy 500, where he performed incredibly well," Hobbs said.

"My personal view is it's fake news" McLaren executive director Zak Brown told RACER. "Obviously, there were also rumors going around about him doing Sonoma, which was complete nonsense."

"Fernando's his own man, but I'd be very surprised if there was any truth to [IndyCar in 2018]," he added. "Personally, I don't think there's anything to it. He's a free agent at the end of the year, he loved doing IndyCar, I think he would like to do IndyCar again, but in my conversations with him, he's been very focused on remaining in Formula 1."

08/31/17 Fernando Alonso has a "clear route" to secure his desired race-winning drive in 2018 – but it won't be in Formula 1, according to this week's Sky Sports F1 Report.

Though the two-time world champion wants to remain in F1 once his McLaren contract expires at the end of the season, all of the sport's top three teams, Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull, have closed their doors on him for next year.

But NBC reporter and F1 interviewer Will Buxton believes Alonso does have another option.

Over in America's IndyCar series, Takuma Sato looks set to leave Andretti-Honda, the team Alonso represented in this year's Indy 500, meaning the outfit may have a full-time race seat available in 2018.

"That now marks a clear route for Fernando to either get out completely, or take a sabbatical and go and do Indy for a year," Buxton said on the F1 Report. "The possibility now firmly exists.

"He said 'whatever I do in 2018, I need to be in a race-winning car, where I can fight for wins and titles'. That's not going to be in McLaren, it won't be at Renault, and regardless of how brilliant Paddy Lowe is and the money that Lawrence Stroll brings, it's not going to be at Williams.

"Where does that leave a race-winning car? The only place is IndyCar."

Former McLaren mechanic and Sky F1 pundit Marc Priestley agreed that IndyCar could suit Alonso, adding: "He loved racing in Indy, he's made no secret that he wants to go back and I think it could be an option."

Priestley also believes Alonso's recent comments and actions, most recently retiring from the Belgian GP with what the Spaniard called an engine problem even though Honda found no fault, could be turning F1 teams away.

"He's being so vocal at the moment that there will come a point where other teams will start looking at him and thinking 'do we want someone whose that divisive in our team?'" Priestley added.

And Buxton said: "If you're Renault and you're trying to bring yourself back into contention do you want a guy who can be that disruptive or do you want a team player?" Sky Sports

07/29/17 Well it seems Alonso is still trying to drop the IndyCar name in an effort to get F1 to keep him, but then in doubt, follow the money. The money is in F1. There is little money in IndyCar due to the minuscule NBCSN TV ratings. No driver in IndyCar is paid anywhere near the amount Alonso can get in F1

(GMM) Fernando Alonso is not ruling out a switch to America's top open wheeler category Indycar for 2018.

Amid his frustration in the third year of McLaren-Honda's hapless collaboration, the Spaniard said in Hungary that "the Indy 500" was his only positive moment of 2017.

Earlier, he said moving full-time to Indycar was not likely for 2018, but since then Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull have made clear they are not in the market to sign Alonso.

So Indycar is now "one possibility" for 2018, Alonso – who turns 36 on Saturday – said.

"Let's see in a month or so," he continued.

"I've always said I'm very open to what may come in the future. I want to win next year and to win we need some good changes here (at McLaren). Many changes," Alonso insisted.

"If those happen, it is possible I stay but it's something I will consider in September."

Alonso and Brown dined together
Alonso and Brown dined together

07/15/17

McLaren executive director Zak Brown said that following talks during dinner with Alonso on Friday night, the Spaniard's focus is very much of remaining in F1 in 2018.

"We had a great dinner with Fernando, and he even picked up the bill.

"We have a good understanding with Fernando, and he loves the environment at McLaren.

"Stoffel [Vandoorne] is also doing a great job, given very difficult circumstances for a rookie, so I like where we are on the driver front."

Asked about if there was any consideration for McLaren to run an IndyCar assault for Alonso in 2018 while it gets it F1's situation in order, Brown told Autosport: "He loved IndyCar.

"He definitely wants to go back and do the Indy 500 when the time is right, but he has made it very clear that he wants to be in F1 next year.

"I think the chances of him being in IndyCar next year are highly unlikely."

Alonso staring at a possible IndyCar future
Alonso staring at a possible IndyCar future

06/11/17 Two-time Formula 1 world champion Fernando Alonso says he is open to contesting a full IndyCar Series campaign in the future after his Indianapolis 500 experience.

Alonso led 27 laps on his oval racing debut with Andretti Autosport last month and was running seventh when his Honda engine failed in the closing stages.

He appeared on NBC's television broadcast of Saturday night's Texas IndyCar race via a video link from Montreal, where he is back in F1 with McLaren for the Canadian Grand Prix this weekend.

Asked by the hosts if he might consider a full-time switch to IndyCar after F1, Alonso replied: "why not?"

He emphasized that his priority beyond F1 at present remained securing a 'triple crown' by winning Indy and the Le Mans 24 Hours to go with his Monaco GP and F1 title successes.

"I'm more ready to do F1, trying to find the best car possible out there," said Alonso.

"I would look at different options.

"Indy 500 would be the first priority for the triple crown, but a full season another time, why not?"

Alonso appeared to enjoy the spectacle of the Texas Motor Speedway race, which featured extremely close side-by-side racing from the start.

"Watching now the race, these guys, they are the best guys," he said.

"I have to learn many things to do one race, I need to learn so many more to do the whole season."

On Thursday Alonso intimated that winning grands prix by September was the only way McLaren-Honda could convince him to stay for 2018.

He underlined that his future beyond this season was currently wide open.

"I'm very open to anything," said Alonso.

"I don't have a clear answer right now. "I would be lying if I told you I know what would happen next year." Charles Bradley/Autosport

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