McLaren CEO Zak Brown says that Fernando Alonso is "very open" to testing its Formula 1 car in 2019. The double-world champion will not be racing in F1 next year, but is still expected to hold some sort of role within the Woking outfit's F1 programme.
Alonso is keeping his ties with McLaren, as it will enter the 103rd running of the Indy 500 together next year. Alonso took part in his expected final Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi last month, coming home in P11.
Suggestions are already gathering that the Spaniard could drive the new car at pre-season testing in February, and Brown admits that talks are underway between the McLaren and Alonso over a test role: "I have spoken to Fernando about it. He is very open to it," Brown said to Crash.net.
"These F1 world champions, whether it's Michael Schumacher or Mika Hakkinen, who came close to a comeback, don't want to be too far from the F1 pit lane. There's a lot he can contribute experience-wise. Carlos and Lando are open to any ideas that will bring us experience.
"Fernando knows the team very well, Lando doesn't have that experience, and Carlos doesn't have that experience with us. It's something I'll be talking to him about. I'll go to Daytona for Fernando's Daytona testing and we're going to chat to him further then."
McLaren's testing programme for 2019 has yet to be finalised, as it is required to run a young driver for two of the four in-season test days next year. It currently has Sergio Sette Camara and Nyck de Vries on its programme, however neither hold the role of its official reserve driver.
Brown says that McLaren's sporting director, Gil de Ferran, is working to finalise its testing schedule for 2019 which could include Alonso: "[I'm] ultimately working with Gil to decide what he thinks is the best driver testing programme for next year.
"It's not only Fernando, but we have rookie tests, we have tyre tests, and we have reserve drivers that we need to consider," Brown added. "So Gil is putting together the ultimate driver-race-testing programme, and we'll make a decision in early January."
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing