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Alonso confirms absence from 2018 Indy 500 due to Monaco F1 clash

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Fernando Alonso has confirmed he will not return to the Indianapolis 500 in 2018 after signing a new Formula 1 contract with McLaren, committing himself to racing in the Monaco Grand Prix.

Alonso entered the 101st Indy 500 in May as part of his bid to become the second driver in history to win the Triple Crown of Motorsport, with McLaren allowing him to skip Monaco due to its ailing fortunes on-track.

Alonso offered the biggest story of this year’s ‘500, racing for a joint McLaren, Honda and Andretti Autosport entry that saw him qualify fifth and run at the front early on before ultimately retiring due to an engine failure.

The Spaniard had previously said it was unlikely he would return to the race in 2018 if he were to re-sign with McLaren in F1, assuming if he did the team would be fighting further up the field, thus making missing Monaco more costly.

With his new McLaren deal for 2018 being announced on Thursday ahead of the United States Grand Prix, Alonso confirmed he would take no part in the 102nd Indy 500 next May due to the clash with Monaco.

“With the new McLaren deal for next year, I can confirm that I will not be in the Indy 500 next year, because there is Monaco Grand Prix at the same weekend and the priority next year will be to perform well in Formula 1,” Alonso said.

“But at the same time, I can confirm that I will be in the Indy 500 in the future.

“I don’t know if it will be 2019, or 2020 or whatever, but it’s a race that I definitely will do again.”

Alonso stressed that while he remains eager to win the Triple Crown by adding Le Mans and Indy 500 wins to his Monaco victories, F1 is still his priority for the time being.

“We have enough to do for next year to put McLaren again at the top of the grid. That’s the first priority right now,” Alonso said.

“On my personal side, there are no other priorities than Formula 1 at the moment, but with a door open for different series and different goals.

“I always believe you need to win in other series if you want to be a more complete driver and a better driver, because motorsport is not only Formula 1 only.

“Even if it’s still the priority, we’ll see what the future brings.”

Verstappen doesn’t want F1 season to end after recent run of form

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Max Verstappen says he is not ready for the 2017 Formula 1 season to come to an end after enjoying a run of strong form through the closing stages of the campaign.

Verstappen endured a rocky run of form through to the end of the European season that saw him suffer a number of reliability issues and score just a single podium finish, taking third in China back in April.

However, the Dutchman has rallied to score more points than any other driver in the last five races, including victories in Malaysia and Mexico, as well as a podium finish in Japan.

Verstappen heads into next weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix chasing a third win of the year to sign off, but joked he does not want the season to end just as he’s got into a good groove.

“We will, of course, try and end the season with a strong result in Abu Dhabi,” Verstappen said. “Last year was actually quite a good race after skipping a pit stop following a spin at Turn 1, it was hard to manage the tires to the end of the race but we did it and finished fourth.

“I would say that my favorite part of the track is at Turns 2 and 3, the fast left, right. It’s also very cool driving underneath the hotel and racing in the darkness with all the lights.

“The final sector at Yas Marina is actually quite technical so you have to be really precise there, but it should also be our strongest part of the track.

“There are quite a few overtaking opportunities to make the race interesting, before the long straight at the hairpin and then at the end of the straight under braking for the next chicane section.

“Abu Dhabi is the last race on the calendar, but I don’t actually want the season to end. I’m really fired up at the moment and I just want to keep going.

“The nice thing will be to spend some time with friends and family over the winter break and then I will look ahead to January and get back into training before it all starts again.”