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Brown hints at Indy test, other details to come for Alonso, McLaren

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In a wide-ranging interview with “Trackside” on 1070 The Fan radio in Indianapolis, McLaren executive director Zak Brown has hinted at a few more details to come regarding Fernando Alonso’s upcoming arrival to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil.

Brown, speaking to NBCSN pit reporter and show host Kevin Lee (co-hosts the show with INDYCAR communications head Curt Cavin), said a date has been determined for Alonso’s first test day at IMS in the jointly entered McLaren, Honda and Andretti Autosport entry but they would wait to reveal it themselves to create a big splash on social media.

You can listen to the full interview with Brown here, starting at about the 14:45 mark.

“There is, but we are not yet revealing that,” Brown told Lee. “We are working very closely with INDYCAR how can we expose the fans to Fernando Alonso and showcase fun and unique ways to do that live and digitally. I don’t want to spoil that announcement, because we’ll be revealing it to the fans.”

Brown also revealed a few further details about Alonso’s month of May program itself, including whether McLaren personnel directly will be involved in the entry.

“Andretti Autosport will take the lead. Michael will be calling the race. It will be his team over the wall,” Brown said. “We are sending out a small crew to support.

“We have some areas where some of the technology we’ve developed will be beneficial. From everything to the technology on the car to some of our people.

“We’ve got some people with some great IndyCar experience. We can’t detract or remove any effort towards our Formula 1 (effort). It will be people from the factory that will have relevant experience.”

Brown elaborated on McLaren’s longer-term goals for Indianapolis beyond 2017, and said you can expect to see existing McLaren F1 partners adorning Alonso’s IndyCar this year.

“I would like to see the Indy 500 being part of McLaren’s annual racing efforts when we go racing,” Brown said. “We have to make sure we do it competitively; it has to be commercially viable and fits our brand. We feel IndyCar and the Indianapolis 500 offer all those things to McLaren.

“I’d say a full season program in McLaren is not yet under full consideration and would be years away because that would be a tall order.”

Brown also confirmed he’ll be joining Alonso in Birmingham, Ala. this weekend at Barber Motorsports Park, where they’ll join the Andretti Autosport team for the weekend. He said they’ll land on Saturday.

Michael Schumacher’s son to make F1 practice debut at Nurburgring

F1 Mick Schumacher
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MARANELLO, Italy — Mick Schumacher, son of the legednary seven-time champion, will have an official Formula One drive during an F1 race weekend for the first time next week at the Nurburgring, Alfa Romeo and Ferrari said Tuesday.

Schumacher gets the practice drive in an Alfa Romeo on Oct. 9 on his home track in Germany as a member of Ferrari’s young driver program, taking over Antonio Giovinazzi’s car for the first session of the weekend.

“I am overjoyed to get this chance in free practice,” Schumacher said in a statement. “I’m going to prepare myself well, so that I can do the best possible job for the team and gain some valuable data for the weekend.”

The 21-year-old Schumacher leads the Formula 2 standings after winning races in Monza and Sochi. He won the European Formula 3 championship in 2018 and tested a Ferrari F1 car in Bahrain in April 2019. He also has done demonstration runs in his father’s old cars, most recently this month ahead of the Tuscan Grand Prix in a championship-winning 2004 Ferrari.

Michael Schumacher holds the F1 record with 91 victories, which Lewis Hamilton is on the verge of tying.

Ferrari said two other drivers in its academy program will also get practice drives in Formula One.

Callum Ilott, a British driver who is second to Mick Schumacher in F2, will drive an F1 Haas at the Nurburgring on the same day as Schumacher. Russian driver Robert Shwartzman will drive in practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Dec. 11, though Ferrari hasn’t said for which team.

The German round was added to the F1 schedule after the coronavirus pandemic disrupted the season and will be officially known as the Eifel Grand Prix after a nearby mountain range. The Nurburgring last hosted F1 in 2013.