Spaniard chose to race in Indianapolis instead of racing in Formula One in Monte Carlo
FERNANDO ALONSO’S participation in Indy 500 has given his woeful McLaren F1 team a boost.
The Spaniard, who has continually berated his team’s performances and their unreliable Honda engine for the past two years, has been given time off to race in the Indycar showpiece.
Many key figures in F1 have criticised McLaren’s decision to allow their driver – who is paid £25m a year – to miss the most important F1 race of the season.
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However, the team’s Chief Executive, Zak Brown, says Alonso’s choice to race in the States has given their F1 team a lift.
He said: “Fernando is loving it. After qualifying he’s a little frustrated because there was an issue that he would’ve been on the front row.
“But when the competitive spirit comes out, then he’s like ‘damn, I could’ve been on the front row!’, but with a big smile on his face.
“It has been great. It’s been good for everyone. For our team, Honda, Fernando, fans so it’s put a smile on everyone’s face.
“I was not surprised at Fernando and McLaren going to Indy would be very big news, but I was surprised and very impressed by the coverage.
“Liberty Media like it too and I think it’s such a good story to generate great exposure for everyone.”
Alonso is no doubt disillusioned with McLaren’s failure to offer him a car capable of challenging for race wins.
His contract is set to expire in the winter with Renault looking a suitable destination for the 35-year-old.
But Brown is hoping they can persuade the two-time world champion to stay with McLaren.
He added: “I think we can keep him. I hope we can. That’s the plan.
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“Things are getting a little bit better. We know it’s going to be slow and painful, and it has been. We saw a glimmer of hope in Spain.
“So as long as we can demonstrate to him we’re on a path to success then I think he will hang in there because he really likes the whole McLaren team environment.”