With the news on Tuesday that Fernando Alonso will quit F1 for 2019, speculation of his ultimate destination immediately shifted over to the states and the Indycar series.
Certainly you don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to work out that the Spanish Samurai is most likely ending up competing in the Indycar series in some capacity. The so called Triple Crown of Motorsport demands it. In fact plans have already been put in motion to make another attempt at the Indy500 happen in 2019.
Alonso, not known to settle for mediocre – wants to do one better by pushing the boundaries of what is classed as the triple crown. A ‘super’ triple crown if you like… Being merely a winner of the Monaco Grand Prix, the Le Mans 24 hours, and the Indy 500 is not enough.
Being Champion in all three series that run those races is probably something nobody else will ever be able to emulate.
Currently Alonso is set to continue to run with Toyota for the full season in the World Endurance Championship, the next round at Silverstone is this weekend. With Toyota being the only factory team running full hybrid, it’s expected Alonso will be the FIA WEC Champion along with team mates Nakajima and Buemi.
Obviously Alonso is also an F1 world Champion, times two.
To add a third Championship, or at least a shot at it – being the Indycar Champion in the same year as becoming the FIA WEC champ and potentially winning the Indy500 race in 2019, is a target worthy for our Spanish Samurai.
To coin a capitalistic business phase that McLaren’s American boss Zak Brown no doubt has been repeatedly chanting at Alonso this year, is that of a ‘synergy‘ between McLaren and Alonso.
Alonso wants to achieve something in motorsport that’s unlikely to ever be emulated, and McLaren wants more exposure to the American market for their road car sales. Indycar is known to be a ‘blue collar’ motorsport (unlike NASCAR), so perhaps a perfect vehicle for pushing their expensive supercars further into the America’s.
The first steps are in place for a full season at Indycar. Fernando Alonso will be doing his first road course test for the Honda-powered Andretti Autosport Dallara DW12 early next month.
Racer.com’s Marshal Pruett is also reporting that we need to expect more dates for road course testing to come. Barber Motorsports Park has been suggested as the venue for first Alonso’s outing says Pruett.
Further, Andretti are considering a tie up with a minnow backmarker team, the Wink Hartman-owned Harding Racing, in a bid to expand their operations, allowing Alonso and McLaren to join the series.
This Andretti ‘B’ team will have it’s own facilities, being in every way a McLaren – supported by Andretti, Indycar team fielding 2 cars.
Of course the biggest sticking point is the power plant. Honda in Japan have given McLaren the OK to run their engines in principle, but the reality is that Chevy will be powering Alonso’s Indycar in 2019. Honda US has more autonomy, but it’s understood that McLaren are not keen to have a Honda engine, particularly after Alonso’s 2017 Indy500 blowup.
Using Chevrolet power on a full-time basis, from a separate shop, is said to be the workaround that would allow Andretti Autosport to maintain peace with their main Honda supply while starting a new venture with McLaren and Chevy says Pruett.
Who will be Alonso’s team mate in the 2nd car? Colton Herta is the favourite – his father, Bryan, operates car # 98 where Andretti’s son, Marco, is now running.
The effort to reach Alonso’s dream of the ‘Super’ Triple Crown, seems to require some serious collaboration between some big names – Andretti, McLaren, Honda and Chevrolet.