Despite rumors, hopes, begs, and pleas, McLaren Racing and Fernando Alonso will not compete full-time in the IndyCar Series next season.
McLaren CEO Zak Brown made the announcement during the 2018 United States Grand Prix weekend on behalf of the team. According to him, McLaren must focus on its Formula 1 program before shifting its attention and resources to other initiatives.
“For the IndyCar Series, we have taken a decision to not compete on a full-time basis in 2019,” Brown explained. “We are simply not ready yet and we are very focused on F1. So we won’t be doing that in 2019."
“We do have a desire to do it, as I have mentioned before, in the near future," he continued. "And as far as the Indy 500 is concerned it remains of interest to us. That will be a decision that ultimately we will take in the off-season, and I think it is something that Fernando would like to do as well, but right now we are still focused on F1 and until we get a little bit of fresh air we will remain focused on that.”
Alonso followed up with much of the same news regarding his own decision not to run the full IndyCar schedule in 2019, though he added that his move was independent of McLaren's. The Spaniard did complete a test of the 2018-spec IndyCar at Barber Motorsport Park earlier in the year, alluding to his interest in the series. However, as he explained this weekend, a full-time switch isn't in the cards for next year.
"We talked a lot at the beginning of the year what the plans were for F1, and I always tried to share my thoughts with [McLaren]," said the two-time F1 champion who'll be leaving the series after this season. "Then eventually it came into my mind that it was the time now to stop Formula 1 so they were the first ones to know. At least they had time to make whatever plans they were thinking for the future. Then it was the same with IndyCar. I had it in my mind that maybe I could do IndyCar or the Indy 500 or something to plan for next year. They were doing similar observations and thoughts for the future of the team so we were talking and linked all the time."
The 39-year-old went on to mention that it's a case of too-much-too-late, saying that the preparation needed to run competitively in IndyCar is extremely high, especially given the fact that others are already training for next season while he completes his final Formula 1 campaign.
"Eventually one day in my case I thought it was too demanding next year. I don’t know about in the future but next year the commitment of the 17 races, it was too much," Alonso told the media. "That dedication and that amount of work that you need to put into that series to be competitive, starting from zero, I felt it was too much and I shared that with the team."
“When it was public let’s say it was not a surprise. It may have seemed linked but our two decisions were made independently."
Alonso does, though, have the desire to return to the Indianapolis 500. While he wouldn't confirm that an Indy entry is coming in 2019, he sounded hopeful that arrangements could be made to take a shot at completing the motorsport "triple crown" which he already owns two-thirds of with wins at the Monaco Grand Prix and 24 Hours of Le Mans.
“It’s a possibility. I would love to do it to be honest. It’s a race that was magic last year and it still has the biggest [pull] for me. Especially now after winning Le Mans, it’s only one step away from the Triple Crown and I would love to do it. I don’t know if it’s going to be next year or in the future but it’s part of the project of next year’s calendar," Alonso concluded.