Fernando is Going to the Brickyard.
News broke this week that two time F1 World Champion and current dog handler (he drives for McLaren-Honda) Fernando Alonso will skip out on the Monaco Grand Prix and instead race in the Indianapolis 500. The story has kept press business with speculation as to why he would make this decision.
Fernando has always been a true racer, demonstrating passion and relentless pursuit, not just of race wins, but wins at every corner. His current stint at McLaren is so bad that he has to find joy in small things like making it more difficult for opponents to overtake.
Alonso star shined as he won two championships with Renault F1, yes Renault won two championships (’05 & ’06). Following up this break-out performance he joined McLaren first as a teammate of Juan Pablo Montoya and then Lewis Hamilton. The atmosphere during his time with McLaren was toxic as the team obviously backed the teams protégé Hamilton over Alonso even though he had two championships. Alonso would leave for Ferrari where everyone would really see his talent. Ferrari was suffering in the doldrums missing out on car development advances slowing drifting down the order becoming a mid-pack team, but not for Alonso. He would consistently take the Ferrari and push it to front when it had no business being there. In he would be a championship contender in 2012 and 2013 in a car that was not ready.
Then after years of struggle, with Vettel’s arrival at Ferrari on the horizon Alonso made, what to anyone looked like a good decision, join up with a McLaren resurgence in their renewed partnership with Honda. A partnership that brought championships to none other than Ayrton Senna in (’88,’90 & ‘91).
This renewal would be a disaster. From day 1 of the new hybrid era in F1, it was clear that McLaren and Honda had designed a Frankenstein of problems, rather than a championship contender. Alonso, wanted a chance to be in a winning car but instead has struggled to make the top 15. This happens to many drivers but the truth is that a lack of talent and lack of car are the combination that holds them back. In Alonso’s case the difficultly of watching the struggle is that in the right car he is a contender for a win on any Sunday.
Enter an exit. Alonso has hinted for years that he would like to extend his racing to other series, potentially WEC and Lemans and now he has a chance to race in the Indy 500.
It’s one of my ambitions to win the triple crown,” he said. “It’s a tough challenge but I’m up for it.”
Alonso's desire for the triple crown of racing reflects his passion for racing, but the timing is an admission that the McLaren is so bad that even by the team the teams arrive in Monaco that the situation will have improved so little that Alonso is willing to skip one of the crown jewels of F1 in order to do Indy. Is this the beginning of his exit from F1 into IndyCar full time, or will he use his freedom to complete a triple crown (Monaco, Indy, Lemans).
McLaren is not new to Indy as they previously won Indy in 1972 with Penske and as a works team in 1974 and 1976. This is not the first time that a F1 driver has raced at Indy. The feat has been done before by Graham Hill, Nigel Mansell, Denny Hulme. The last time a driver skipped the Monaco Grand Prix was Jim Clark in 1965. He would skip Monaco, win at Indy then returned to the finish out the F1 season as F1 World Champion.