Alonso rules out 2018 Indy 500 shot if he stays with McLaren

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Fernando Alonso will not race in next year’s Indianapolis 500 if he remains in Formula 1 with McLaren due to the date clash with the Monaco Grand Prix.

Alonso’s entry to the 101st Indianapolis 500 earlier this year with McLaren-Honda and Andretti Autosport led to speculation he could move into the series full-time in 2018 should no competitive F1 seat become available.

Alonso is out of contract with the ailing McLaren team at the end of this season, having been one of the most vocal critics about its ongoing struggles with current engine partner Honda.

A split between McLaren and Honda is expected to be announced on Friday in Singapore, the British marque picking up a Renault engine supply from 2018, and Alonso will wait for his team to move before considering his F1 future.

“After they take decisions, I will take mine. I want to stay loyal at least to that,” Alonso said.

“I will not make any decisions without them making any decisions first.

“I’m relaxed, happy, and we’ll see what’s going on in the next few weeks.”

When asked directly if IndyCar was an option next year, Alonso said: “There are options everywhere, and they are all very good. You just need to be patient and wait a couple of weeks.”

Alonso’s appearance at Indianapolis acted as part of his bid to win the Triple Crown of Motorsport, also featuring the Monaco Grand Prix (a race he has won twice) and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The two-time F1 world champion had to miss this year’s race in Monaco in order to enter the ‘500, something only allowed given McLaren’s lack of competitiveness in F1 at the time.

McLaren executive director Zak Brown said recently that Alonso would likely feature in Monaco next year as the team hoped to be fighting further up the field, closing off a return to the Brickyard.

While Alonso agreed another shot at the ‘500 would not be possible, he dropped strong hints that he would look to race at Le Mans, with the endurance classic having no F1 clash in 2018.

“The Triple Crown is clear target for me in the future, and there are three races there. If the Indy 500 is together with Monaco as we know, there is another one still to complete,” Alonso said.

“I agree with the same thing as Zak said. If I remain in Formula 1, it’s because I believe I can win next year. That will ease the decision a lot because I will be in Monaco because I don’t want to lose any points there.

“My priority is Formula 1, as I said before, winning here. The Triple Crown is in the background.

“There are three races, not only Indy. There are many, many possibilities to do a fantastic 2018.”

Tequila Patron to end ESM and IMSA partnerships after 2018 season

Photo courtesy of IMSA
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Earlier on Monday, Tequila Patron, a long-time sponsor in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, both at the team level – they have a long standing partnership with Tequila Patron ESM – and the series level, announced that they will be ending their sponsorships at the end of the 2018 season.

After sponsoring Highcroft Racing in 2008 and 2009 in the American Le Mans Series, Tequila Patron and ESM formed a partnership in 2010 to launch their own team. Since then, they have scored overall wins in the Rolex 24 at Daytona, Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring, and the Petit Le Mans. They have also competed internationally, in both Prototype and GT categories.

“On behalf of the entire Extreme Speed Motorsports organization, it has been an honor to represent such an amazing brand for the past 13 years,” said team co-owner Scott Sharp via a team release.

“I have the deepest gratitude for all of (Patron CEO and ESM co-founder) Ed Brown’s support. Together we have tackled various challenges, won races at each step, and built ESM into such an incredible team. Simultaneously, it has been thrilling to watch Ed and his team build the Patrón brand in a meteoric fashion and along the way become an icon in the motorsports world! We will miss not carrying the now infamous green and black livery, but the same passion for excellence will remain!”

IMSA President Scott Atherton also expressed gratitude toward Patron for their long-time involvement.

“IMSA and Patron Spirits have enjoyed a fantastic partnership for more than a decade. Tequila Patron rose through the IMSA ranks, from a high-profile team sponsor with Patron Highcroft Racing beginning in 2008, through its entitlement sponsorship of the Patron GT3 Challenge starting in 2009, and its presenting sponsorship of the American Le Mans Series beginning in 2010,” Atherton detailed.

He continued, “Tequila Patron continued in a prominent position as the American Le Mans Series merged with GRAND-AM to create the new IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and has been our entitlement partner for the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup since 2014 in addition to its longstanding support of the Tequila Patron ESM race team and its pair of Nissan DPi race cars.

“All associated with IMSA – competitors, promoter partners, series officials and fans – will miss the iconic Tequila Patrón brand next year. On behalf of IMSA, we thank CEO Ed Brown and Tequila Patron for all they have done over the many years to help us grow IMSA and the sport as a whole. We’re more proud than words can express to have counted Tequila Patron among our family of premium brand partners.”

Team co-owner Scott Sharp, in a story posted on SportsCar365, asserted that the ESM team has every intention of continuing in 2019.

“We’re working on a number of options,” Sharp said. “Obviously I think we’ve singly got the best team we’ve ever had, personnel-wise. Having been refining over the years and making selected additions, we’ve gotten ourselves to be super strong. The goal is keeping everyone together. We’re working through a few different options that will hopefully allow us to do that.”

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