Joe Skibinski / IndyCar

Hitachi, Team Penske extend partnership through 2020

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Global technology, electronics and automotive company Hitachi will once again return as a primary sponsor of the No. 2 Team Penske Dallara-Chevrolet driven by Josef Newgarden next season, the team announced in a press release Sunday.

Under the new agreement, Hitachi will serve as Newgarden’s primary sponsor in eight races next season, and will once again be an associate sponsor on all of Team Penske’s cars competing in the NTT IndyCar Series.

Hitachi, whose colors adorned Newgarden’s No. 2 machine when he won his second IndyCar Series championship at Weathertech Raceway Laguna Seca Sunday, was the primary sponsor in three of his four victories in this season..@

The company has been a Team Penske partner since 2011, when the company sponsored both Helio Castroneves and Ryan Briscoe at the final IndyCar race at Twin Ring Motegi in Japan.

Briscoe would deliver the company their first race victory the following season at Sonoma Raceway. Since then, Hitachi has won six more races and eight pole positions as a primary sponsor.

“We are proud to continue our partnership with Hitachi and build on the success we have enjoyed together over the last eight seasons,” Team Owner Roger Penske said in the press release. “Hitachi has been such an important partner for our IndyCar program and we also utilize their technology and services across many of our Penske Corporation businesses away from the track.”

Below are the following races in which Hitachi will serve as Newgarden’s Primary sponsor next season:

Date   Race

3/15    Streets of St. Petersburg – St. Petersburg, FL (NBCSN)

4/19    Streets of Long Beach – Long Beach, CA (NBCSN)

5/30    The Raceway at Belle Isle Park (Race 1) – Detroit, MI (NBC)

5/31    The Raceway at Belle Isle Park (Race 2) – Detroit, MI (NBC)

7/12    Streets of Toronto – Toronto, Ontario, Canada (NBCSN)

7/18    Iowa Speedway – Newton, IA (NBCSN)

9/6      Portland International Raceway – Portland, OR (NBC)

9/20    WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca – Monterey, CA (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.”