McLaren focus away from F1 – Alonso starts his Indy dream

The fall of Samurai and rise of a Ronin by TJ13 contributor Oddball

Rōnin “drifter” or “wanderer” was a samurai without lord or master. A samurai became masterless from the death or fall of his master, or after the loss of his master’s favour or privilege.

Well fans, it’s going to be a cracking year according to Eric ‘The believer’. A Honda powered car, piloted by a very fast Spaniard and backed by the once mighty McLaren team will rise to the top and destroy all the opposition.

It’s a real pity that this mix hasn’t lived up to the hype here in F1 land.

As the circus makes its way back, deep into Europe, the one race that could turn the McLaren’s miserable season will be missing one of its star drivers.
The McHonda really hasn’t proven itself in the few races and test sessions that we have had, so who could blame a driver for looking to new pastures.

The Monaco GP will be a poorer show as Alonso takes the reigns of a re branded Andretti Honda car but can a Dallara chassis on the mighty oval of the Indy 500 compare against F1?

These cars have off the rack spec aerodynamics depending on whether the car is powered by Honda or Chevrolet. The engines from each manufacturer are more or less balanced so the playing field should be pretty even. This parity should play into the hands of one of the best drivers that F1 could have sent but it’s a far cry from what the once front running Spaniard should be doing.

It could be that McHonda are throwing this as a PR campaign or it could just be for Alonso to regain some dignity. A triple crown for the 2 times world champion is looking more realistic than a McLaren return to form.

The worry in the Woking team with its lack of sponsorship and pitifully underpowered/unreliable power unit must be immensely concerning.
No team, no matter how much history, can survive long in this form and the canny Spaniard must have that on his mind, so is this a farewell salute from the champion?

McLaren boss Zak Brown has hinted several times that he intends to race at Indy every year if possible. This splitting of focus could be seen as an unnecessary diversion away from F1 at a time where the team need to concentrate on improving their form.

But with regard to our Spanish Samurai when we look back in a few months, just when Alonso announces his retirement we can all look back and say… ‘Smart move Fred’.. Now go claim LeMan’s.

Day One of Alonso’s ‘Rookie’ shakedown


The ‘art’ of high speed oval racing is unique in motorsport. The organisers of Indycar racing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway don’t allow drivers without experience to simply jump in and race. The consequences of an accident on the banking at 220mph is simply too disastrous so all new drivers are made to complete rookie orientation including a 2 time F1 world champion.

In order to complete Indianapolis 500 rookie orientation, Fernando Alonso had to pass through three phases of increasing speeds (205-210 mph, 210-215 and 215-plus), and it only took him one hour to breeze through all three.

When he was asked how it felt to drive an Indy car more than 200 mph for the first time in his life, Alonso said, “It was fun, but now we start the real deal.”

Alonso ending the day having completed 110 laps and posted a top speed of more than 220 mph during Wednesday’s test.

Zak Brown had this to say;

“Today went exactly as we could have hoped. Lots of laps, he was very fast, passed his rookie orientation without any issues, car ran perfectly, settled in with the team. Today was a perfect day.”

“It helps build a case for coming back and doing it again and again. It’s early in May, so we need to stay focused and not get ahead of ourselves, but today was a 10 out of 10 in terms of what we wanted to achieve.”

“It’s narrower than what I thought,” Alonso said. “You watch the television, and you see three cars aside on the main straight, and now you are with the car on the main straight, and it’s hard to imagine, you know, how you can fit three cars there at that speed.

“Definitely you will see some of the moves and some of the things that you were watching before in a different perspective.”

Alonso will be returning to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 15th for the first day of testing for the 500. The 500 itself races on May 28th.

13 responses to “McLaren focus away from F1 – Alonso starts his Indy dream

  1. says a lot that i found watching Alonso on his own on track as exciting as watching the Russian Grand Prix 🙂
    Loving the Indy McLaren orange by the way!!

  2. I watched it yesterday and there was no doubt that Alonso would make it through the “rookie orientation” in a car that had been properly set up for him by Marco Andretti.

    This is marketing spin to deflect attention away from what is happening at the F1 team. The team is in crisis and I suspect on the verge of unravelling. McLaren’s DNA is F1, their competitors on both the track and road are Ferrari and M-B. Add in Porsche in the WEC. Competing in a spec series does nothing to enhance their reputation as one of the top race car design organizations. It reeks of desperation. Somehow how I get the sense the McLaren board wish Dennis was back running things.

    And what spin will Brown have when Alonso announces he’s signed with Renault?

    • I am pretty sure that you will feel the same Cav. No true racer wants a rival team to suffer like what is happening to McHonda. Ferrari,MB and Renault need Honda in the championship and to see a driver of Alonso’s caliber not even starting a GP is a wake-up call to the teams.
      Honda have a pretty shaky record in F1, we all remember the few glory yrs of Williams and McLaren but sadly they just don’t seem to have a handle on this current formula.
      It is a real shame that this is probably the last year we will see Alonso and IMHO I see a WEC drive heading his way.
      I know the chap could be toxic to a team but he really did drag the dog of a Ferrari into places it just didn’t deserve. My respect for him grew during those difficult years following the Renault crash gate and such.

      • I disagree that this is the last we’ll see of Alonso in F1. I’d bet he’s in a Renault next season. Jolylon Palmer is the one we’ll have seen the last of.

    • > Somehow how I get the sense the McLaren board wish Dennis was back running things.
      Sorry, but I thought pretty much all the current McLaren problems were due to their dodgy (still) underpowered and (still and getting more so) unreliable Honda engines? Remind me who it was who landed them there…

    • What do you need sponsorship for when Honda is paying all the bills for Alonso to drive for Andretti? 🤣 And from what I’ve read, all of McLarens F1 sponsors are getting their logo’s on the Indy car for free.

  3. Alonso will draw massive European attention to Indy. I wonder if the sponsors have to pay for this or they get a free ride based on the miserable performance in F1. Honda will not draw any attention in the Monaco GP, except when they retire, hit the wall and maybe when they get lapped for the 4th time. So I don’t care if it is to draw attention away from F1, was going to watch Indy anyway and now there is some extra excitement.
    And when he wins it, it will be epic.

  4. Just to set the bar:
    Kurt Busch a bit above average NASCAR driver tried Indy in 2014 and finished 6th.
    He then flew over 500miles to Charlotte, NC for a 600mile race. It was also his first open wheel race and he did this while maintaining his weekly NASCAR obligations.
    Should anything less than a win (baring a mechanical failure) be considered a failure for Alonso?

    Where do we set the bar?

    • Rossi who drove a few races for Marussia won last year as a rookie. And Mighty Max Chilton finished 15th last year also as a rookie. I would say Alonso has to get pole, have the fastest lap and win the race while lapping the whole field.

  5. I’m a bit surprised he didn’t find another race to run beforehand just to get better acquainted with the team.
    I didn’t look, maybe the schedules didn’t mesh.
    I’d love to see him do the triple, although I strongly feel the Daytona 500 should be included.

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