Brown denies reports of McLaren/Alonso split

Fernando Alonso and Zak Brown, McLaren F1
© XPB 

McLaren CEO Zak Brown has denied reports that the team has ended its relationship with former world champion Fernando Alonso.

The story emerged at the end of the week when an official McLaren source stated that there were no plans for Alonso to take part in any more test sessions for them in 2019.

It had been believed that McLaren and Alonso's embarrassing Indianapolis 500 campaign in May had led to a rift between the two parties.

But Brown says that's absolutely not the case.

“[The reports are] fake news," Brown told Associated Press reporter Jenna Fryer on Friday.

"We definitely still have a strong and contractual relationship with Fernando," he added.

On her Twitter feed, Fryer also posted a further statement from McLaren clarifying the position between the team and Alonso.

"Nothing whatsoever has changed in the relationship," the statement read. "McLaren and Fernando have a continuing and contractual relationship.

"Fernando remains a McLaren Ambassador [for McLaren]. No decision has been taken by McLaren or Fernando on returning to the Indy 500 at this time."

Alonso also responded to the rumours of the split on social media, suggesting it was a mistimed 'April Fools' and adding the hashtags #inventing #clicks after a string of laughing emojis.

Alonso left the McLaren F1 team at the end of 2018 after a frustrating period where the squad was never in contention for victories. Instead, he found contention in endurance racing with back-to-back wins in the Le Mans 24 Hours race.

Alonso himself has suggested that now his WEC commitments have concluded, he's keen on moving on and undertaking an even bigger motor racing challenge - such as the Dakar Rally.

"I know that Fernando is very keen to go to Dakar," former WRC champion Carlos Sainz Sr told Marca sports newspaper. "It would be very nice for us to form a team."

Race winners Fernando Alonso (ESP) and Sebastien Buemi (SUI) #08 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota TS050 Hybrid, celebrate at the end of the race.

"Everyone said last year that I would not leave if I had a competitive car," Alonso said of his decision to leave the Toyota LMP1 team. "But now I'm leaving a competitive car that is first and second in each race."

Plans for Alonso to take part in the Dakar in a partnership with Toyota have been described as 'very advanced' by Autosport magazine.

But one thing is for sure: the chances of Alonso ever returning to F1 appears to be receding all the time - even at a top team such as Ferrari, should an opening become available in the next year.

"The same motives that made me decide not to continue, continue to be present," he said on Instagram. “Being able to compete and trying to win in other disciplines forces me to rise to a level I didn’t have before.

"I would return if I wanted to," Alonso told media in Spain this week. "But unlike the Dakar or another category, I have nothing to prove in F1.

"I retired with 21-0 [perfect qualifying record] over a teammate, which has never happened before.

"I didn't leave for competitiveness, but for the things, I like to do or," he added. "To take impossible challenges that I try to make possible."

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