Alonso charges to fifth in Hungary, sending McLaren into summer break on a high

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Fernando Alonso took full advantage of the misfortune of others to finish the Hungarian Grand Prix in fifth place, marking McLaren’s best result of the season so far.

Since joining forces with Honda at the beginning of the 2015 season, McLaren has struggled to battle inside the top ten, scoring just five points in the opening nine races of the year.

The team’s rut looked set to continue in Hungary after Alonso suffered a problem on his car in qualifying, leaving him 15th on the grid, one place ahead of teammate Jenson Button.

However, as a number of drivers up the field hit trouble, Alonso managed to move up the order and eventually cross the line in fifth place for ten points.

“This was a very good race, and fifth position at the finish is a nice little present for the whole team, particularly as we’re not as competitive as we’d like right now,” Alonso said.

“On the calendar, there are a handful of circuits where we expected our performance to be better – Monaco, Singapore, and here in Hungary, so we knew we needed to make the most of today.

“Critically, we did just that: it was a chaotic race, and we took advantage of every opportunity that came our way. These points are a good way to send the whole team into the summer break, but we need to further maximize our chances in the second half of the season.”

Button followed his teammate’s lead by fighting through the field to finish ninth and secure McLaren’s first double points finish of the season.

“Fernando did a great job today,” Button said. “Fitting the option tire for the final stint was the right decision for him; I didn’t stop for tyres under the safety car whereas pretty much everyone around me did.

“That decision made it very difficult for me, because my used primes were pretty old by the end of the race, and there were plenty of faster cars around me running fresher options.

“Still, it was a fun race, and it’s great to get points ahead of the summer break. The accidents and penalties certainly helped us, but we still did a good job out there today.

“This is a step forward for us, but we’ll need to take another step if we’re to repeat this sort of result. Equally, the next two races – at Spa and Monza – will probably be difficult for us, but it’s good to see we’re making progress.”

Ryan Norman returns to Indy Lights with Andretti Autosport in 2019

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Ryan Norman will return to Andretti Autosport for their third season together in 2019 after scoring his first win and first pole with that organization in 2018.

I’m really excited to finally make it official that I’ll be returning to Andretti Autosport for my third season competing in Indy Lights,” said Norman in a press release. “We’ve built a solid foundation over the past two years and I’m ready to fight for wins, podiums and ultimately the championship, with such a great group of people who have become like a family to me.”

Norman finished 2018 fourth in the championship, earning his first career win in race 15 of the 17-race schedule at Gateway Motorsports Park in August.

Norman’s first pole came in the finale at Portland International Raceway in September, but he crashed on the first lap and finished last (8th).

“We’re very happy that Ryan is rejoining us for his third season of Indy Lights,” said Andretti Autosport President, JF Thormann. “We were pleased with his performance this past season, and his potential as a driver began to really shine after his win at Gateway. He’s right on track with his progression plan put together by his engineering team, and we feel strongly that he has what it takes to be a contender for the 2019 championship.”

Norman will essentially replace teammates Patricio O’Ward and Colton Herta, who will race for Rookie of the Year honors in IndyCar next season.  O’Ward finished first in the Indy Lights standings last year; Herta finished second.

Norman’s 2019 campaign will begin on the streets of St. Petersburgh, Florida March 9, 2019. That will be the first of a double-header with Race 2 running the following day.