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.

BREAKING NEWS: Phoenix will not be on IndyCar schedule in 2019

The sun has set on IndyCar racing at Phoenix, at least for the foreseeable future. Photo: Getty Images
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The sun has set on INDYCAR continuing to race at ISM Raceway (formerly Phoenix International Raceway).

ISM Raceway president Bryan R. Sperber announced late Friday afternoon that the Avondale, Arizona track (in suburban Phoenix) will not host a Verizon IndyCar Series race in 2019.

Michael Knight of the Arizona Republic first reported the story, followed by an official statement from Sperber:

“We have enjoyed having INDYCAR at our venue for the full three years of our agreement. The series officials and teams have been tremendous partners.

“INDYCAR will not be on our schedule in 2019, we’re currently taking a pause to review schedule options for the future. INDYCAR is currently discussing with International Speedway Corporation (ISC) other potential venues and opportunities.

“We’d like INDYCAR to be on our calendar in the coming years, and we will work with INDYCAR to find a date that will help deliver a successful event.”

INDYCAR and previous open-wheel series have raced at the 1.022-mile short track since 1964:

* 1964-1978 as part of the AAA/USAC Champ Car Series

* 1979-1995 as part of the CART/Champ Car World Series

* 1996-2005 as part of the Verizon IndyCar Series

* 2016-2018 – The IndyCar series returned to ISM Raceway after a 10-year absence, However, poor attendance for each of the three years prompted both sides to not extend the three-year agreement that expired after this year’s April race.

Here’s the official INDYCAR statement:

“INDYCAR has enjoyed its time racing at ISM Raceway, but attendance in the past three years has been disappointing despite considerable investment from both sides.

“Track president Bryan Sperber and his team have been terrific partners and are developing a beautiful facility, and IndyCar will reconnect with them when conditions are right for both parties.

“Meanwhile, INDYCAR is moving forward with building a terrific schedule for the 2019 season.”

Because ISM Raceway is owned by International Speedway Corporation, speculation has already begun as to what other ISC tracks INDYCAR may seek to hold races at.

Among potential ISC properties that could host ISC events – and some already have in the past – include Chicagoland Speedway, Watkins Glen Intentional, Homestead-Miami Speedway, Kansas Speedway, Michigan International Speedway, Auto Club Speedway and Richmond Raceway.

Other ISC facilities include Daytona International Speedway, Talladega Superspeedway, Martinsville Speedway and Darlington Raceway.

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