Milwaukee Update: Takuma Sato leads at halfway mark

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Takuma Sato is back to the front of the field for the first time since Sao Paulo, coming from 15th starting position to lead the Milwaukee IndyFest at the halfway point.

Sato, along with multiple others, took advantage of an early caution involving a spinning Simona de Silvestro to pit off strategy. Since that point, he’s managed to make his way through the grid as the strategy has played out.

Helio Castroneves, last week’s winner at Texas, also pitted early along with Sato and was running second at Lap 125 of 250. Meanwhile, Ryan Hunter-Reay, who won last year at Milwaukee, has been solid again so far and is currently third after pitting on a normal strategy at Lap 68. Andretti Autosport compatriots E.J. Viso and James Hinchcliffe are fourth and fifth.

Pole sitter Marco Andretti, who came into today’s race 22 points behind Helio Castroneves in the championship, led from pole until Hunter-Reay was able to get by him on Lap 62. Then on a pit stop at Lap 68, his day got worse when his fuel line was momentarily unable to disengage from his car, adding several seconds to his pit stop and costing him track position.

Finally, at Lap 97, Andretti began to slow on the race track, pulling down on the apron between Turns 1 and 2 before coming to rest on the backstretch.

“Either the alternator – or, I don’t know, another part,” a frustrated Andretti told NBC Sports Network, confirming an electrical issue on his No. 25 RC Cola Chevrolet. “I guess we’re gonna try to get it fixed.”

Shortly after the halfway mark, Andretti was found strapping back into his car and will presumably return to the race in an attempt to salvage some points for the championship.

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.”