McLaren yet to decide on Alonso’s replacement for Monaco GP

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McLaren is yet to make a decision on who will replace Fernando Alonso for the Monaco Formula 1 race when the Spaniard takes part in the 101st Indianapolis 500.

McLaren announced on Wednesday that Alonso would be joining the grid for the ‘500 on May 28, with the British team returning to the famous race after a 38-year absence alongside Honda and Andretti Autosport.

Alonso is set to visit Barber Motorsports Park next weekend for the Honda Grand Prix of Alabama, and will then fly straight from the Spanish Grand Prix on May 14 to begin practice at Indianapolis Motor Speedway the following day.

McLaren is now in need of a replacement for Monaco, with reserve driver Jenson Button being the most obvious choice, the Briton having stepped away from full-time racing at the end of 2016.

However, no firm decision has been made yet, with McLaren executive director Zak Brown expecting to make a call by the end of April.

“We have a good idea of who we’re going to put in the car,” Brown said when asked about a replacement by NBC Sports.

“We will be able to do that no later than the end of the month. Probably sooner.”

Button has not made any appearances in the F1 paddock since his retirement from last year’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, with his only scheduled appearance with McLaren being an event at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in the summer.

Should Button not wish to race, McLaren may turn to junior drivers Nyck de Vries or Nobuharu Matsushita, while British Formula E driver Oliver Turvey has also completed extensive simulator work with the team in recent years.

Hamilton tops second Abu Dhabi F1 practice with new track record

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Lewis Hamilton swept to the top of the timesheets in second Formula 1 practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Friday evening, beating Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel by one-tenth of a second.

Hamilton trailed Vettel through the daytime-run opening practice session, but managed to strike back by recording a new track record at the Yas Marina Circuit for Mercedes.

Hamilton recorded a fastest lap time of 1:37.877 to finish one-tenth of a second clear of Vettel at the checkered flag, appearing to have an edge across a single lap on the ultra-soft tire.

Red Bull threw its hat into the ring as a possible rival for pole through Daniel Ricciardo, who finished the session third-fastest, three-tenths of a second back from Hamilton at the head of the field.

Kimi Raikkonen ended FP2 in fourth place in the sister Ferrari, finishing within half a second of Hamilton, and managed to edge out fellow Finn Valtteri Bottas, who was a further two-tenths back in P5.

Max Verstappen failed to get in a quick flying lap during FP2, ending the session one second down in P6 for Red Bull.

Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon’s tight intra-team fight at Force India continued through FP2 as the pair were separated by just 0.01 seconds, taking seventh and eighth respectively to finish as the leading midfield drivers.

Nico Hulkenberg and Fernando Alonso completed the top 10 for Renault and McLaren, with Felipe Massa following in 11th for Williams on his final Friday appearance in F1.

Massa was fortunate to avoid an accident with Ricciardo during the final 15 minutes of the session after a mix up at the hairpin when the Brazilian tried to get a wider line for the back straight.

Running in Abu Dhabi continues with final practice at Yas Marina on Saturday morning from 5am ET on the NBC Sports app, followed by qualifying at 8am ET on NBCSN.