Fernando Alonso will miss this year's Monaco Grand Prix after it was confirmed by McLaren that he will compete at the blue-riband Indianapolis 500 event instead.
Double world champion Alonso, 35, will race in a Honda-powered Andretti car branded as a McLaren.
Alonso's absence for round six of the Formula One championship raises the possibility that Jenson Button, who remains under contract in an ambassadorial role for McLaren, could return for the Monte Carlo race on May 28.
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Britain's Lewis Hamilton has qualified on pole position for Sunday's Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai.
The Mercedes driver edged out Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel - winner of the season-opening Australian Grand Prix - who completed the front row.
Hamilton's team-mate Valtteri Bottas was third with the second Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen alongside in fourth.
Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo made amends after a disastrous weekend at his home race in Melbourne by setting the fifth fastest time, but his team-mate Max Verstappen endured a torrid session ending up on the back row of the grid in 19th.
Lewis Hamilton delivered an emphatic performance to stave off a resurgent Ferrari and claim pole position for Sunday's season-opening Australian Grand Prix.
Sebastian Vettel, who could very well prove to be Hamilton's closest challenger this year, will line up alongside the Mercedes driver in a tantalising front row, with Valtteri Bottas - the Finn who has replaced reigning champion Nico Rosberg - in third.
Kimi Raikkonen was a distant fourth, while home favourite Daniel Ricciardo dramatically crashed out of qualifying after he lost control of his Red Bull and smashed into the tyre barrier.
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McLaren's woeful pre-season continued on the final day of the Barcelona test as Fernando Alonso's MCL32 twice ground to a halt at the Circuit de Catalunya.
The former world champion's team and engine suppliers Honda have been plagued by problems which showed no signs of getting any better, with the first race of the season in Australia just over two weeks away.
Alonso's car stopped twice on the track on Friday's morning session to add to the two red flags on Thursday as the team were again robbed of valuable track time ahead of the Melbourne race.
The first stoppage came just over halfway into the morning session, with Alonso's car eventually taking its now customary place on the back of the recovery truck after a short break.
But when Alonso returned to the track with a little over an hour of the session left it stopped again almost straight away.
McLaren's pre-season campaign got off to the worst possible start as Fernando Alonso completed just one lap before stopping with an engine issue.
While the new era of Formula One roared back into life at a sun-blazed Circuit de Catalunya on the outskirts of Barcelona, Alonso was forced to watch the opening morning from the sidelines.
McLaren, the famous British team who have won 12 drivers' championships and eight constructors' titles, are desperate to return to the front of the grid.
But Alonso, the double world champion who is out of contract with McLaren at the end of the year, managed just one tour of the Barcelona circuit.
McLaren are unsure whether they will be able to fix the problem before the day's action concludes.
"We have an oil systems issue which requires a full investigation," a spokesperson for their engine supplier Honda said.
"We plan to run again today, but due to the difficult access location it will take several hours to resolve."
The governing body of F1 has hit back at "malicious" claims that it suffered from a conflict of interest in approving the sale of the sport.Read the full story ›