Wilson, Tagliani make St. Pete weekend strides

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Series veterans Justin Wilson and Alex Tagliani helped spur their teams forward after challenging practice and qualifying sessions to score top-10 finishes in IndyCar’s season opening Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

The combination of Honda’s relative lack of pace, although the top 22 in practice were barely covered by more than one second, and setup issues meant Wilson (13th) and Tagliani (17th) were further down the grid than they may have liked.

A mix of good strategy and avoiding trouble helped move them up the order to ninth and 10th by the finish. Wilson could have ended higher in Dale Coyne’s No. 19 before EJ Viso made a late-race pass. Tagliani’s race was largely uneventful but a positive for his BHA/Barracuda Racing effort, which a year ago raced at St. Petersburg with Lotus engines and has had only one preseason test this year.

We had a pretty good race,” said Wilson. “The Sonny’s Bar-B-Q Honda team called some good strategy and we managed to keep picking our way up there and making improvements.  It was frustrating to lose a couple of spots right at the end – I seemed to get knocked around a little bit and be in the wrong place at the wrong time.  It’s good to get a top 10, but we want to be up there challenging for the win, so we’ll focus on what we can do better next time and try to make a step forward at Barber.”

Wilson’s DCR teammate Ana Beatriz retired with mechanical issues after a frustrating weekend back for the first time since last year’s Indianapolis 500.

Alonso would be ‘very happy’ to finish F1 career with McLaren

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Fernando Alonso says he would be “very happy” to see out his Formula 1 career with McLaren after signing a new multi-year contract with the British team, announced on Thursday.

Alonso, 36, ended speculation about his future by agreeing a new deal with McLaren, hopeful of returning to the front of the field next year when the team swaps Honda power for Renault engines.

Alonso admitted to considering options outside of F1 before agreeing to stay at McLaren, and was thought to only be chasing a one-year extension in order to be in a position to snap up a more attractive seat in the volatile 2019 market.

However, Alonso confirmed in an interview with the official F1 website that the deal with McLaren stretched beyond the end of next year, adding he would be content to see out his time in the sport with the team.

“I never talk about contracts, but one thing I can say is it is a long-term partnership,” Alonso said.

“I am very happy to finish my career at McLaren. So I don’t think it is going to be only one year.”

Alonso also revealed he had options with teams high up the field in F1 for 2018 just a couple of months ago, but was always leaning to staying at McLaren despite not scoring a podium with the team in almost three years.

“There were some other options in F1. In the summer there were still some options at the top teams, but my desire was to stay with McLaren,” Alonso said.

“But at that time they were in conversation with different engine suppliers, so I had to give them time to sort out their situation.

“Then McLaren opted for a Renault engine which delayed my decision, because I had to understand what Renault’s plans were for next years.

“But when I had everything on the table, everything was pretty clear.”