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Fernando Alonso to drive 2019 McLaren in Bahrain Pirelli test

Fernando Alonso will drive McLaren's 2019 Formula 1 car for the first time in next week's post-Bahrain Grand Prix test

The two-time world champion walked away from grand prix racing at the end of the 2018 season but has become a McLaren ambassador and adviser for 2019.

In announcing his new role the team said he would drive the 2019 car to further its development for this year and 2020.

McLaren has now confirmed that Alonso will drive in next week's test at the Bahrain circuit.

Alonso will drive on both days, on each occasion at the wheel of an MCL34 McLaren is running to aid Pirelli's tyre development.

He will get a full day of running on Tuesday before sitting out Wednesday morning so regular race driver Carlos Sainz Jr can drive, before returning to the track in the afternoon.

Sainz will also drive on Tuesday morning in the car McLaren is free to run as it pleases, with team-mate Lando Norris taking over that car on Tuesday afternoon and driving for the entire day on Wednesday.

By committing Norris and Sainz to Tuesday and Wednesday running in the car it has set-up freedom over, McLaren has locked itself in to running a 'rookie' driver in the next test in Spain.

One of the two days at Barcelona following the Spanish Grand Prix will need to be conducted by a driver who has not started more than two grands prix.

Teams must use such drivers for two of their four test days and Norris will satisfy part of that criteria next week, as Bahrain will only be his second F1 race.

It means Bahrain may not be Alonso's only chance to get behind the wheel of the MCL34 during the season.

He could also drive again if Pirelli conducts another two-day test in Abu Dhabi after the season finale.

Bahrain F1 test line-up so far

Mercedes: TBC
Ferrari: Sebastian Vettel/Mick Schumacher
Red Bull: Max Verstappen/Dan Ticktum
Renault: TBC
Haas: Romain Grosjean/Pietro Fittipaldi
McLaren: Carlos Sainz Jr/Lando Norris, Fernando Alonso/Sainz (Pirelli test car)
Racing Point: TBC
Alfa Romeo: TBC/Schumacher
Toro Rosso: TBC
Williams: TBC

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