Fernando Alonso will join forces with Arrow McLaren SP for a third attempt at the motorsport triple crown at this years 104th running of the Indy 500, an announcement by McLaren states.
Alonso has had a turbulent time looking for a banner to compete under having initially being accepted by Andretti Autosport in January only to be ‘vetoed at the 11th hour’ by Honda following his vocal criticism of the McLaren-Honda encore between 2015 and 2018.
Fernando, thirsty for an Indy 500 reprive, then offered his services to Ed Carpenter Racing. Despite Ed Carpenter’s side being Chevrolet powered, the American cited “money, people and time,” as the limiting factor, preventing further expansion to a fourth car for the Spaniard.
Given the global stage that the McLaren-Honda fallout took place upon, it is no surprise that Alonso has found himself locked out of all Honda-powered teams. As with any motoring brand, Honda don’t just go racing to keep the group entertained, but to seek profit through prize money but more importantly, public recognition and relations which they hope to convert into sales – Alonso’s wails of ‘GP2 engine’ and reliability woes were not exactly the best strapline for the Honda marketing team.
At the start of the year, the prestigious British marque parted-ways with the two-time Formula 1 champion seemingly for good as his contract as ambassador was not renewed. Despite this split, Zak Brown’s statement reads:
“We’ve always said we’re open to running Fernando in a third car for the 500, so we’re delighted he’s decided to join us. Fernando is one of the greatest drivers in the sport and it’s fantastic to have him as part of the team. It’s a fine way to contest our first Indy 500 as Arrow McLaren SP and to have Ruoff Mortgage backing Fernando is a perfect partnership.”
The Spaniard has thus returned home after failing to find greener grass in other pastures but claims a ride with Arrow McLaren was always at the top of his list.
“It was important for me to explore my options for this race but Arrow McLaren SP has always been at the top. I have a special relationship with McLaren; we’ve been through a lot together and that creates a bond, a loyalty that is strong,” he said.
McLaren and Arrow SPM announced the beginning of a new partnership in August 2019 with the 2020 Indycar campaign marking the groups inaugural season together. McLaren, whose last full-time Indycar campaign was 1979, were humbled by their embarrassing 2019 Indy 500 campaign and instead partner with the experienced and mature Arrow SPM headed by co-founders Sam Schmidt and Ric Peterson with Gil de Feran joining the ranks as McLaren’s key representative.
Alonso will pilot the No. 66 Ruoff Mortgage Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet at the 104th running of the Indy 500 on May 24th. A mouthful he will have to get used to if he wants to keep his hopes of the triple-crown alive as backup options start to run out.