Alonso and Button official at last for McLaren in 2015


McLaren’s post-December 1 driver lineup announcement has finally been revealed, following several days including a board meeting at the company’s headquarters last Thursday that failed to produce a lineup.

The Honda-powered team has gone for an all-veteran, double World Champion lineup of Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button.

McLaren chairman and CEO Ron Dennis expanded on the decision, and the delay.

“We signed Fernando a little while ago, but we decided not to announce the fact until we had also re-signed Jenson as his teammate,” Dennis said in a team release. “For many reasons our negotiations with Jenson took quite a long time, but, now that they have been concluded, we are confident that our collaboration with him will continue to thrive in the future every bit as well as it has in the past. Make no mistake about it, Jenson is 100 percent committed to McLaren-Honda, to Formula One, and to winning.”

As expected, Alonso has officially been confirmed for his return to the team that he raced in 2007. The two-time World Champion left Ferrari after five seasons, and his return to McLaren has been something of an open secret over the last month; he told NBCSN’s Will Buxton at the last Grand Prix of the year in Abu Dhabi his next move “won’t be much of a surprise for anybody.”

“McLaren-Honda’s repeated and open desire, perseverance and determination in making it possible for me to join their exciting renewed partnership, have been some of the main factors that made me take this decision, not forgetting the most important factor of all: we share a common objective and expectations, and there is a very solid future, with confidence, ahead,” Alonso said.

After a long delay and much deliberation, 2009 World Champion Button will be retained alongside, with Kevin Magnussen retained as well, as test and reserve driver.

McLaren has opted to go for an all-veteran lineup with Button alongside Alonso. This is now the oldest pairing on the grid (Button is 34, Alonso 33) and the second team to have two World Champions in its two cars. Ferrari, Alonso’s former squad, has Sebastian Vettel joining alongside Kimi Raikkonen.

“Like Fernando, I am certain that McLaren and Honda will achieve great things together, and I feel sure that, working together, all of us will pull incredibly hard to create a brilliantly effective winning team,” Button said.

This leaves the Dane, Magnussen, somewhat out in the cold after just one season, same as was the case for Sergio Perez a year ago. But Magnussen will still have a role with the team in that new capacity.

The decision also leaves McLaren’s newest highest touted prospect, GP2 driver Stoffel Vandoorne, waiting in the wings for at least one more season. The Belgian starred in his rookie year of GP2, finishing second in the championship, but racing director Eric Boullier said toward the end of the year Vandoorne was likely to stay in GP2 for another season.

More to come throughout the morning on MotorSportsTalk.

Zach Veach splits with Andretti Autosport for rest of IndyCar season

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Zach Veach will be leaving his Andretti Autosport ride with three races remaining in the season, choosing to explore options after the decision was made he wouldn’t return for 2021.

In a Wednesday release, Andretti Autosport said a replacement driver for the No. 26 Dallara-Honda would be named in the coming days. The NTT IndyCar Series will race Oct. 2-3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and then conclude the season Oct. 25 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.

Veach was ranked 11th in the points standings through 11 races of his third season with Andretti. Since a fourth in the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, he hadn’t finished higher than 14th.

“The decision was made that I will not be returning in 2021 with Andretti Autosport in the No. 26 Gainbridge car,” Veach said in the Andretti release. “This, along with knowing that limited testing exists for teams due to COVID, have led me to the decision to step out of the car for the remainder of the 2020 IndyCar season. I am doing this to allow the team to have time with other drivers as they prepare for 2021, and so that I can also explore my own 2021 options.

“This is the hardest decision I have ever made, but to me, racing is about family, and it is my belief that you take care of your family. Andretti Autosport is my family and I feel this is what is best to help us all reach the next step. I will forever be grateful to Michael and the team for all of their support over the years. I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for a relationship that started many years ago with Road to Indy. I will also be forever grateful to Dan Towriss for his friendship and for the opportunity he and Gainbridge have given me.

“My love for this sport and the people involved is unmeasurable, and I look forward to continuing to be amongst the racing world and fans in 2021.”

Said team owner Michael Andretti: “We first welcomed Zach to the Andretti team back in his USF2000 days and have enjoyed watching him grow and evolve as a racer, and a person. His decision to allow us to use the last few races to explore our 2021 options shows the measure of his character.

“Zach has always placed team and family first, and we’re very happy to have had him as part of ours for so many years. We wish him the best in whatever 2021 may bring and will always consider him a friend.”

Andretti fields five full-time cars for Veach, Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and Colton Herta.

It also has fielded James Hinchcliffe in three races this season.