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Alonso calls Button ‘the best teammate I ever had’

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Fernando Alonso says that Jenson Button is “the best teammate I ever had” following the Briton’s decision to step back from his McLaren Formula 1 race seat in 2017.

McLaren announced following qualifying at Monza on Saturday that Stoffel Vandoorne would partner Alonso for the 2017 season, with Button stepping back into a development and ambassadorial role.

Alonso joined Button at McLaren in 2015, the pair working together to help develop the Honda power unit and take McLaren up the grid.

Speaking at the announcement on Saturday at Monza, Alonso paid tribute to Button by calling him the best teammate he has had.

“I’ve been working with Jenson for the last two years. It was fantastic work,” Alonso said.

“Probably… not probably – I can say that he was the best teammate I ever had.

“In terms of performance, in terms of feedback with the engineers and the car development, it was great with him.”

Alonso is pleased that Button will still be playing a role at McLaren, having signed a two-year deal, but is looking forward to working alongside Vandoorne.

“We will have Jenson in the team which is the most important thing,” Alonso said.

“The best news of this change is that we will have Stoffel in the car with the fresh ideas and we will push the team to the maximum, but also we still have Jenson around us, helping us and giving all his contributions.

“So I think it’s very good news for the team for the future, and now we are ready and looking forward to Australia.”

There is an option for Button to move back into a race seat with McLaren for 2018, should both the driver and the team be willing, coinciding with the expiry of Alonso’s contract.

Alonso has long-stated that he will walk away from F1 after 2017 if the new-spec cars are not to his liking, with McLaren’s option with Button appearing to be a back-up plan should that happen.

IndyCar teams with NASCAR on IMS road course doubleheader in 2021

IndyCar NASCAR doubleheader 2021
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The NTT IndyCar Series will be sharing Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the NASCAR Cup Series in a race weekend doubleheader for the second consecutive season, but both series will be on the road course in August 2021.

IMS announced Wednesday that IndyCar will hold an Aug. 14, 2021 race on its 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course. It’ll be a day before NASCAR’s premier series runs the same layout for the first time after the Brickyard 400 was contested on the 2.5-mile oval for the first time in 27 years.

This season’s rescheduling of the IndyCar GMR Grand Prix to July 4, 2019 (a day before the Brickyard 400) led to the first NASCAR-IndyCar doubleheader weekend. The Xfinity Series also raced on the IMS road course for the first time July 4 after the IndyCar race ended.

INDYCAR AT IMS THIS WEEKEND: Harvest GP schedule, entry lists

IndyCar will be holding its second race weekend this year at the IMS road course Friday and Saturday with the Harvest GP.

“Our first NASCAR-INDYCAR weekend was a big success last July, with positive feedback from
our loyal fans who watched the races on NBC and from the drivers, teams and participants
involved,” IMS president Douglas Boles said in a statement. “The Xfinity Series’ debut on the IMS road course provided exactly the kind of thrilling action from the green to checkered flags that we anticipated, so we know the teams and drivers of the Cup Series will put on a great show as they turn left and right for the first time at IMS.

“We can’t wait to welcome back fans to see NASCAR and INDYCAR together during this
exciting weekend as we add another memorable chapter in the long, storied history of the
Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”

It also will mark the first NASCAR Cup-IndyCar doubleheader with a crowd as fans weren’t permitted at IMS in July because of the novel coronvavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Over the course of Wednesday, NASCAR is releasing its 36-race slate for next season. IndyCar has yet to release its full 2021 schedule.