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Alonso: McLaren deal is "long term"

NEWS STORY
19/10/2017

Fernando Alonso was quick to dismiss talk that his new deal with McLaren is for one year only, the Spaniard telling reporters in Austin that the contract is "long term".

To further muddy the waters however, Alonso, who refused to say how many years the deal is for, revealed that he intends returning to contest the Indy 500, possibly as early as 2019.

"No," he replied when asked if the deal announced today is for 2018 only. "We never discuss the contract clauses and we are not going to do it now, but it's a long-term contract, we'll see how things go.

"I'm very excited for next year, with different expectations," he added, "and keen to put McLaren back where it deserves to be. I want Australia to arrive already.

"We weren't in a hurry, neither of us," he said of the contract negotiation process. "From the moment I believed that McLaren's project, or at least the chassis side, had taken the right step in terms of aerodynamics and in terms of mechanical grip. We left all doors open, I talked to everybody who wanted to talk, with all the different projects I had on the table, but the most convincing one was McLaren's. They had their own particular situation with the engine: they needed to decide if they were sticking with Honda or changing supplier. In the end they decided to change supplier and move to Renault and we had to wait a few more weeks to have all the information about the engine that I wanted. Now it was time to make a decision and the decision is to stay with them because I think we can be very competitive next year."

Asked about a return to Indianapolis next year, he replied: "Obviously now with the new McLaren deal for next year I can confirm that I will not be in the Indy 500 next year, because it is Monaco GP the same weekend and the priority next year is to perform well in F1.

"But at the same time I will confirm that I will be in the Indy 500 in the future," he added. "Whether it will be 2019 or 2020, whenever, it is a race that I definitely will experience again."

In celebration of this year's Indy bid, which saw the Spaniard lead the race until a (Honda) engine failure ended the dream, Alonso is wearing a version of his Indy 500 helmet.

Check out our Thursday gallery from Austin, here.

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