In the wake of his failure to qualify for this year’s Indianapolis 500, Fernando Alonso has said that a full Indycar programme in 2020 won’t happen but another stab at the fabled race is very much on the cards, but maybe not with McLaren.
The Formula 1 team’s feeble attempt to qualify for this year’s race is well documented, in a nutshell: the Spaniard was bumped in the final shootout for the last row of the grid. An unthinkable scenario during the Month of May appears to have strained the partnership.
With regards to his future with Indycar and the Indy 500, Alonso told Speedweek, “I dont know. I have to see what options are available. If I do Indy again, I’ll look at the options and then choose the most competitive one.”
Not very hidden between the lines it is clear he is seking a drive for a team with a winning car, which McLaren’s 2019 Indy effort was never going to be thanks to a host of inexplicable management staffing gaffes that had the wrong people in the wrong places, and naively underestimating one of the toughest races in motorsport.
Nevertheless, McLaren are keen to return to make amends, in the aftermath of Zak Brown’s mea culpa stance it is clear that his bosses condone failure, but won’t accept not getting up and fighting another day.
Speaking to reporters in Monaco recently Brown said of his team tackling the 500 again next year, “I talked a lot with Fernando, also about this possibility. We would like to try again, of course, preferably with him. Based on our discussions, I say: Fernando wants to win with McLaren.”
While the Woking bosses also consider a fully fledged Indycar campaign, Alonso insists that a full season Stateside with McLaren is not on his agenda, “If I do Indy, it will just be that race. The whole [Indycar] season is too much of a commitment with all the races and the preparation.”
“If you join the series, then its to drive for the title, not to be a tourist. And for the title fight, you need a lot of time, a lot of preparation. In addition, many new areas to learn. This would be too much,” added the double F1 Champion who, in other words, is saying: McLaren won’t be competitive.
However, a drive with a top team (not powered by Honda) might be an option. Of course Penske springs to ming as Andretti Autosport are firmly aligned with the Japanese manufacturer that earned the headline-grabbing wrath of Alonso during their F1 years together with McLaren.
They are unlikely to do business with him ever again.
Meanwhile, the Spaniard’s close confidante Flavio Briatore was typically blunt when asked about the Spaniard’s embarrassing experience last month, “The trip to Indy was badly organised. It was big bullshit. If Fernando does it again hopefully it will be with another team that can win the race.”
Alonso will say hasta-la-vista to Toyota Gazoo Racing later this month after the Le Mans 24 Hours which he is contesting with Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima – the trio lead the championship and are in line to be crowned WEC Champions should fate not have other plans on 15-16 June.
What Alonso does after that is unclear, although he insists he has projects he is considering and will announce them when plans are confirmed. For now, tick-off the list a full Indycar season with McLaren and he remaining in the WEC.
Big Question: What next for Fernando?