Bumped Before May; Honda Nixes Alonso Andretti Ride

Fernando Alonso watches as he is bumped from the Indianapolis 500 in 2019. Photo: Mike Silver

\Fernando Alonso will need to find needs to find a Chevy team to take him on if he wants another chance to win the Indianapolis 500. An expected announcement from Andretti Autosport putting Honda in the 29 Andretti ride never came. I thought that was because of the death of Michael’s cousin, John Andretti. But Honda headquarters in Japan vetoed the deal.

The bad blood between Alonso, and McLaren for that matter, stems from criticisms leveled at Honda in Formula 1 when they supplied engines to the McLaren which Alonso drove for. Granted, the engine performed poorly. Alonso called it a GP 2 engine during one race. The team was not happy with the engine the entire season.

Alonso now has limited options among the Chevy teams. Penske never was a possibility, Ed Carpenter racing will not run a fourth car. The best opportunities lie at Arrow McLaren SP, Coyne, or Carlin. Alonso failed to qualify last year in a Carlin supported entry. I’m not sure he wants to go that route again.

One off Chevy teams which may have availability are Juncos and Dreyer and Reinbold. Alonso needs a huge check to hook up with Juncos. I’m not sure where D&R stands with their second driver, thought to be J. R, Hildebrand.

Door Open for Hinchcliffe?

My first thought upon hearing this news is does Hinchcliffe have a shot at the now open Andretti ride? I don’t know which teams he has talked to already or how far negotiations have progressed. He wants to run races besides Indianapolis. Andretti would probably be the easiest team to accommodate that.  The team had considered running Alonso at one or two more races.

I’m sure Andretti is getting lots of calls from lots of drivers asking about the now empty seat. Some possibilities are Carlos Munoz, Stefan Wilson, and Oriol Servia. Sebastien Bourdais may be interested as well.

Implications

I really don’t see Alonso driving in the 500 this year. The Chevy possibilities themselves have limited room for another car.

Drivers and teams may now be even more leery of criticizing their engine supplier. Indycar seats and engine leases are hard enough to come by. This not a component of a team anyone wants to upset.

Honda’s veto of Alonso underscores the need for the NTT Indycar Series to secure a third OEM. If  one supplier has a say about who drives cars with their engines, the field narrows for the parties affected. Of course Honda has every right to make decisions they believe are in their interests, but  having just two engine choices is limiting.

What will it now take for a driver to get the seventh Andretti car for Indianapolis? Alonso was likely bringing significant sponsorship to the team. Will Andretti decide to forgo the extra car?  I was seeing one less car for qualifying this year as it was. I hope I’m wrong.

 

 

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