Two-time F1 champion Fernando Alonso has become McLaren Racing’s ambassador with the deal includes test runs to develop the 2019 and 2020 cars.
After years of low-key performances due to car issues, Alonso decided to pull the plug at the end of the 2018 F1 season – he did not want to call it as a retirement though, with the will still there to not only win races but also world championships.
For now, Alonso has a busy schedule in endurance racing, especially in the World Endurance Championship, as well as preparing for the 2019 Indy500 event where he will compete for McLaren in a Chevrolet-powered car with the aim to secure the Triple Crown.
With the pre-season F1 test on-going at Barcelona, Alonso made his first official visit of 2019 on Day 1 of the second test when incidentally Lando Norris topped the timesheet. The Spaniard is following the Day 2 action as well with Carlos Sainz driving.
In the meantime, McLaren has given Alonso an official role in the squad where he becomes the team’s ambassador. In addition, the Spaniard will advise the team’s drivers and engineers, while he is also expected to drive the MCL34 and MCL35 in selected tests.
Statement added: “As part of the continued relationship, Fernando will stay closely connected to McLaren Racing activities, helping advise the team’s drivers and engineers. He will also drive at selected tests to support the development of MCL34 and MCL35 for 2020.”
“Becoming a McLaren ambassador is a true honour,” said Alonso. “It is a special team, and despite the challenges we have endured recently, it remains so. I said before I stopped racing in Formula 1 last year that I see myself with McLaren for a long-time to come.
“So I am delighted at this new role and the ability to stay closely involved with the team I feel is my spiritual home. We have the Indianapolis 500 in May of course, which I am looking forward to immensely, but this is just the beginning of many things we can do together.
“I am particularly passionate about nurturing young talent, whether that’s with my own team or helping the new generation of Formula 1 drivers at McLaren unlock their true potential. This is important to both the team and myself, so will be an especially rewarding part of my role.”
Team head Zak Brown added: “Fernando is part of the McLaren family. He has set his place in the team’s history and continues to write his chapter of the McLaren story, so it is entirely appropriate that we formalise his status as a McLaren ambassador, joining another double champion, Mika Hakkinen.
“For any race team, having someone of Fernando’s class on hand to provide support through his experience is of huge value. His insights and perspective will be welcomed by both our drivers and engineers alike, while his stature and character remain highly appealing to our partners and fans.”