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McLaren will keep Alonso on speed-dial list: Brown

Fernando Alonso is leaving Formula One after Sunday's season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, but McLaren say they will not hesitate to seek his services again if needed.

The double world champion has not ruled out a comeback, while recognising it as unlikely at 37 years old, but team boss Zak Brown told Reuters on Wednesday the Spaniard would be the first driver he called if there was a problem.

"We certainly wouldn't hesitate, if we needed a driver that's not one of our current two, to have Fernando be the first on the speed-dial list," he said.

"(Michael) Schumacher came back, (Alain) Prost came back. I wouldn't rule that out.

" We're very happy with our driver line-up for the future - that's what we are very focused on at this moment - but never say never.

"He's certainly driving at the top of his game."

Jenson Button, the 2009 world champion who left McLaren at the end of 2016, made a one-off return at the following year's Monaco Grand Prix when Alonso was absent racing in the Indianapolis 500.

Belgian Stoffel Vandoorne also made his debut in 2016 when Alonso was injured in Australia and ruled out of race two in Bahrain.

McLaren have an all-new line-up for 2019, with Spaniard Carlos Sainz joining from Renault and British teenager Lando Norris stepping up from a reserve role.

Two-time Monaco winner Alonso will continue in the World Endurance Championship with Toyota, having won the Le Mans 24 hours this year, and with McLaren again at the Indy 500 as he chases the "triple crown of motorsport".

NEW ROLE

Brown said Alonso was sure to attend some Formula 1 races next year and did not rule out a new role for him eventually.

"He talks about one of these days having a management shirt," said the American.

"He loves being at racetracks: when he's not at a Formula 1 track or endurance, you'll find him at his go-kart track. He's still a McLaren driver. We're doing the Indianapolis 500 together, so Fernando has other ways he can influence and help our team."

Brown hailed the Spaniard as one of the greatest of his era and one who could have won many more championships than his two with Renault. - AFP

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