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Felix Rosenqvist leads P3 at Laguna Seca; Newgarden second fastest

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MONTEREY, Calif – Felix Rosenqvist was the fastest driver in the third practice session for the IndyCar season finale Saturday morning at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, posting a lap of 1 minute, 11.7732 seconds around the 11-turn, 2.238-mile road course.

Current series points leader Josef Newgarden finished the session in second, 0.1823 seconds behind and just ahead of teammates Will Power (third) and Simon Pagenaud (fourth).

Takuma Sato, whose 2020 return to Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing was announced Saturday morning, rounded out the top five.

Scott Dixon (eighth) and Alexander Rossi (10th) joined championship contenders Newgarden and Power in the top 10.

Click here for full practice results

Live coverage of qualifying for the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey is at 4:30 p.m. on NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold and race coverage begins Sunday at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBC.

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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.”