Alonso a free agent for Indy after McLaren contract ends

FILE PHOTO: Rallying - Dakar Rally - Stage 2 - Al Wajh - Neom, Saudi Arabia - January 6, 2020 Toyota Gazoo Racing's Fernando Alonso speaks to the press after completing stage two REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed

LONDON (Reuters) - Fernando Alonso will be free to drive for whomever he chooses at this year’s Indianapolis 500 after ending his relationship with McLaren.

The Formula One team confirmed on Monday that the double world champion’s contract had expired at the end of last year and was not renewed.

“Fernando is a world-class competitor and we wish him well for the future,” said a team spokesman. “While our relationship has come to a natural conclusion, he will always remain part of the McLaren family.”

Alonso, twice a winner of the Le Mans 24 Hours sportscar race, has made winning Indianapolis his major focus of the year to complete the so-called Triple Crown of Motorsport.

Now 38, the Spaniard failed to qualify in a McLaren for last year’s Indy 500 after leading the race on his debut in 2017 with Andretti Autosport.

McLaren are returning to The Brickyard in May as part of a fulltime IndyCar return in partnership with Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.

The team have been renamed Arrow McLaren Racing SP, competing with two Chevrolet-powered cars and a possible third entry for Indianapolis.

Alonso, who left Formula One as a McLaren driver at the end of the 2018 season and competed in this year’s Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia, has since been linked with a return to Honda-powered Andretti.

He had also carried out an ambassadorial role for McLaren last year.

Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Clare Fallon