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Fernando Alonso to return to Indy 500 in 2019

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If Fernando Alonso seemed a little too upbeat after qualifying 18th for the Brazilian Grand Prix, there was a reason for it.

After that session, Alonso announced he will return to Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2019 to make his second start in an entry fielded by his Formula 1 team McLaren Racing.

Alonso made a successful debut in 2017 in a collaborative effort with Andretti Autosport, qualifying fifth and leading 27 laps before he lost an engine and retired on Lap 179.

“I’ve made clear for some time my desire to achieve the Triple Crown,” Alonso said. “I had an incredible experience at Indianapolis in 2017 and I knew in my heart of hearts I had to go back if the opportunity was there. I’m especially glad to be returning with McLaren.

“This was always my first choice if the team decided to do it, so I’m delighted they’ve decided to go ahead. It’s a tough race and we’ll be up against the best, so it will be a huge challenge. But we’re racers and that’s why we race. One of the things I’m looking forward to most is seeing the fans again, who are absolutely fantastic.”

“We are relishing our return to the Brickyard and this incredible race,” said Zak Brown, CEO of McLaren Racing. “McLaren has a long and fond relationship with the Indianapolis 500 and it’s a case of unfinished business for us with Fernando.

“No Indy 500 is a cakewalk, it’s a massive challenge. We have the utmost respect for the race and our competitors. So, we are under no illusions. But McLaren are racers first and foremost, as is Fernando. We’re going for it.”

F1 races in Austin, Mexico City hitting financial rough patches

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AUSTIN, Texas — Two of Formula One’s three races in North America are facing financial issues that are raising concern about their future.

Organizers of the U.S. Grand Prix won’t get at least $20 million from the state of Texas for the 2018 race after missing a paperwork deadline set by state law. And new questions lurk about the future of the Mexican Grand Prix after the country’s new president suggested the government may not spend on the race like it has the last four years.

Both races have been popular with drivers and fans, and have enjoyed key dates on the F1 calendar. Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton clinched season championships in Texas in 2015 and in Mexico City in 2017 and 2018.

Officials in Formula One and at the Circuit of the Americas, host of the U.S. Grand Prix, did not immediately respond to requests for comment Wednesday.