INDYCAR Photo by Chris Jones

Neck pain sidelines Sebastien Bourdais from IndyCar practice

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MONTEREY, California – Four-time Champ Car Series champion Sebastien Bourdais, one of just four drivers in the NTT IndyCar Series who previously has competed at WeatherTech Raceway at Laguna Seca Raceway, sat out the end of Friday’s final practice session.

Bourdais was experiencing neck pain from a cervical issue that has plagued him in recent years. According to team owner Dale Coyne, it’s an ailment that pops up about once a year.

Bourdais, a 40-year-old driver from Le Mans, France, finished the day with a fast time of 1:10.7061 around the 11-turn, 2.258-mile permanent road course for a speed of 113.948 miles per hour in the No. 18 SealMaster Honda for Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser and Sullivan.

He was 18thout of 24 cars that turned laps on Friday.

Bourdais competed in both the Friday morning and afternoon sessions but parked the car for the pit stop practice that used to be held as a Sunday morning warmup.

This is the first IndyCar Series race at Laguna Seca since CART/Champ Car raced here in 2006. From 2003-2006, Bourdais won four-straight and drove to victory in 2004 and 2006. He led 43 laps in the 2004 win and 47 laps in 2006.

Bourdais left on a golf cart along with his public relations representatives Kevin Diamond to seek treatment for the neck pain.

Fernando Alonso will decide this summer whether to pursue F1 again

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Fernando Alonso said he will determine by this summer if he would consider a return to Formula One next season.

After announcing Tuesday that he will return to Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May with Arrow McLaren Racing SP, Alonso said “right now the Indy 500 will take all of my concentration” but left the door open for F1 in 2021.

“In my case, probably during the summer period, I’ll make a decision on 2021 if Formula One is still appealing to me,” Alonso told IndyCar on NBC announcer Leigh Diffey in an interview (watch the video above). “The 2021 rules (in F1) are definitely a step forward, and hopefully things can be more mixed and not only three teams capable of winning races. So all this factors into play. I may consider that possibility.”

Alonso won consecutive Formula One championships in 2005-06 with Renault. He has 32 victories in an F1 career that started in 2001 and also includes stints at Ferrari and McLaren.

His last victory on the circuit was May 12, 2013 in Barcelona. He is winless in his most recent 110 starts, including the past 77 races with McLaren in 2015-18.

The Guardian recently reported that McLaren CEO Zak Brown said Alonso wouldn’t be returning to F1 with the team.

Alonso also told Diffey that returning to F1 from a two-season absence wouldn’t necessarily be linked to McLaren’s performance.

“I think they did well last year, and hopefully they make another step forward and close to the top three because they deserve it and are a fantastic team,” he said.

Though he is optimistic about more parity, Alonso said six-time champion Lewis Hamilton should be a favorite for the 2020 title based on preseason testing in which Mercedes turned heads with a new steering system.

“It seemed Mercedes is still quite competitive,” Alonso said. “They show enormous potential on the development side and on the progress from one year to next. Formula One is impossible to predict because many things happen in season.

“At the starting point, (Mercedes) are the favorites. When you have Lewis in the car and Mercedes with the potential they have, they have to be No. 1 probably.”