Alonso’s Entry for the Indianapolis 500

Arrow McLaren SP and Fernando Alonso revealed the two time Formula 1 champion’s car for the 104th running of the Indianapolis 500 this morning.聽 It’s a different look for Alonso, with only the mirrors in the McLaren papaya orange.
The car is sponsored by Ruoff Mortgage, which was the sponsor on Takuma Sato’s 2017 winning 500 car.

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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.聽 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聽 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聽 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?聽 I was seeing one less car for qualifying this year as it was. I hope I’m wrong.

 

 

Long Beach is Safe and Other Tidbits

Photo: 漏 2007 Kayte Deioma, courtesy of www.KayteDeioma.com

 

 

Good news this week about the Long Beach Grand Prix. The聽 Los Angeles Angels baseball team announced an agreement to remain in Anaheim聽 through 2050. A major portion of the track was considered for a new stadium for the Angels after their current stadium聽 contract with Anaheim expires at the end of 2020. A baseball stadium would significantly impact the Grand Prix.聽 The Acura Grand Prix is the second longest running event on the NTT Indycar Series calendar. 2020 will be the 45th running of a race on the streets of Long Beach.

The Indycar race has fought off other attacks in the past few years. The city council considered proposals to return the event to an F1 race. That idea was voted down. The race is safe for the next thirty years.聽 I wonder if the Angels were simply using the exploration of Long Beach as leverage to get a better deal from Anaheim.

F5000 Revival

The Formula 5000 Drivers Association will have three Revival Races in 2020, at Road America, Watkins Glen, and Circuit of the Americas. This sounds like something worth an extra trip to Road America for me. Full information is in the link below:

F5000 Drivers Association Unveils 2020 Revival Race Series

Formula 5000 ran from 1967-1976 with 5 liter V-8 engines. Originally under SCCA sanction, USAC joined the Sports Car group in sanctioning the series. The sound of these cars was amazing. If one of these events is near you, I encourage you to attend.

Fred Watch, Part III?

Fernando Alonso has confirmed he will enter the 104th Running of the Indianapolis 500. He is still uncertain which team he will drive for.聽 The decision will be between Andretti and Arrow McLaren SP. I see a possible issue with each team. Will Honda allow Alonso to drive for Andretti?聽 In 2019 Alonso failed to qualify for the race with McLaren. While the team appears to be in better shape than last year.聽 However, James Hinchcliffe barely made the race last year after missing the 2019 500.

Alonso will not announce which team he will be with until after the Dakar Rally in January.

Back next week with more observations and a special post recognizing some podcasts.

McLaren/Alonso Split- Thoughts

Motorsport Magazine reports this morning that McLaren and Fernando Alonso have parted company. The separation is believed to be amicable.

“We have no plans to run him in any further F1 test sessions this year…He is free to pursue other opportunities in motorsport and we support him doing so,” a McLaren spokesman said.

Alonso has had an off and on relationship with McLaren since his first season with them in 2007, when he complained of the team giving preferential treatment to Lewis Hamilton. When he returned to McLaren for the聽 2015 season, Alonso complained loudly and often about the uncompetitive Honda engine.

This past May at Indianapolis Alonso and McLaren failed to qualify for the Indianapolis 500 after a series of missteps by the team.

Where does Alonso go from here? If he wants to pursue the triple crown Alonso will need to find an existing team. Will it need to be Chevy team? I’m not sure. it seemed Honda was less happy with McLaren than Alonso.聽 He will also need to bring a lot of money.

I believe his commitment to Toyota in WEC ends after this season as well.聽 Alonso has talked of racing in virtually every major series in the world, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see him doing a bunch of one-offs. We might see him in the Daytona 500 next year as well as the Indianapolis 500.聽 Perhaps a couple more races with Wayne Taylor Racing are in the cards.

I would like to see聽 Alonso try a couple of Indycar road races, especially road America and Laguna Seca. While McLaren may eventually come to the NTT Indycar sreries full time, I see Alonso just running selected races.

We know wherever he races there will be crowds of fans and press following him.

Quick, Well, Day After, Thoughts- Day 2 Qualifying

The format did provide drama. James Hinchcliffe and Fernando Alonso had to wait until the final two qualifiers ran to see if they made the race.

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James Hinchcliffe pauses as he gets out of the car his Sunday run. He seems to be wondering if the time will be good enough.

Some of the old Bump Day flavor was back with rumors swirling about deals and shared parts and information. the rain delay may have had something to do with it, but it was a fun atmosphere.

Every 100 years, a driver from France wins the pole. That’s not good news for Sebastien Bourdais.

Qualifying Weekend Tweaks

For next year I would like to see Bump Day聽 be a timed period, say 90 minutes, for cars not in the race to make a maximum of three attempts to make the field.

As far as the Fast Nine, it is a dinosaur concept intended to be filler when there were only 33 cars. It may be good for television, but I think an extended Bump Day as I proposed would be a better use of that brief network TV window. Let the pole winner be the fastest qualifier on Saturday. That’s your Saturday TV drama.

Limit cars to three attempts per day.聽 Several cars went out to use runs as practice time. If teams have exclusive use of the track, it should be for a serious run.

Other Thoughts

I was surprised that the track didn’t open for practice in the middle of Saturday afternoon.

Even in defeat, Fernando Alonso was gracious enough to come to the media center with Gil DeFerran to discuss their week.

Yesterday I think was the first time I nave ever seen Sage Karam smile. He was more at ease in interviews than I’ve seen him after his run. His best comment, referring to Hinchcliffe and the stress of the last two days, “I’m surprised James hasn’t had a heart attack yet going through this two years in a row.”

The new sealant seems to help dry the track quicker, which would be a good thing on Race Day. I just hope we never have to find out on that day.

I’ve seen some people say this year’s qualifying was a good argument for guaranteed spots. I聽 think it was a better argument against it. Would have great stories like Dragonspeed and Juncos with guaranteed spots? It would be hard if more full time teams join the series.

I have never seen so little attention paid to who wins the pole. I didn’t mind it. I think the pole should be decided first, like on Saturday. The true story of qualifying is in the smaller teams who make the field, sometimes at the expense of a bigger team or champion driver.

Today’s Schedule

Practice -12-2

Bronze badge holders have pit access today.

I will have a summary of the session later today.

 

 

Last Chance for Hinch and Alonso; Weather May Determine Pole

Today is the last chance聽 for popular drivers James Hinchcliffe and Frenando Alonso to get into the 103rd running of the Indianapolis 500.聽 Both have had massive crashes this week.聽 Hinchcliffe’s crash yesterday could not have come at a worse time. The 2016 pole winner is on the verge of missing his second straight 500 and third since 2015. he also missed a week of practice in 2014 recovering from a concussion he suffered in the first Indycar Grand Prix.

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Will they make the race?

Alonso and McLaren have struggled since he crashed on Tuesday. Electrical issues have plagued the team. Yesterday each of Alonso’s five attempts followed the same pattern- two good laps followed by a significant drop in speed on the last two.聽 I think McLaren came here with the attitude that they would easily get into the field. They wanted to mostly do Indy on their own. The way the series is now, that is difficult. I would have thought with their budget that they would have had a better performance despite the accident.

Other drivers looking for one of the three open grid spots are Pato O’Ward, Kyle Kaiser, Sage Karam, and Max Chilton. If Alonso and Hinchcliffe succeed in qualifying for the race, only one of these four gets in.聽 I think Karam makes the race. He had a difficult day yesterday. J. R. Hildebrand drove his car Friday to make sure it was okay.

The forecast isn’t looking promising at the moment. Steady rain appears to be moving in around 10 am and may last most of the day.聽 In that event, the last row will be determined tomorrow and the Spencer Pigot will have won the pole.

It seems that each time the Speedway os series changes the qualifying format, an important day gets rained out. It would also be a shame to have a rainout of the NBC broadcast.

Back later this morning with an update on the weather and any time adjustments.

 

 

Day 2 Wrap-up

Photo: Felix Rosenqvist at the Indycar Grand Prix. Photo by Kyle McInnes

Felix Rosenqvist spun in turn two at 5:02. His car snapped as it appeared he caught the grass with his left front tire. He backed into the outside wall the went head on into the tire barrier on the inside.聽 His spinning car just missed clipping Will Power and Jack Harvey just missed running into Rosenqvist. He was checked and released from the infield medical center.

After just a few minutes of green flag running, the yellow flew for a track inspection. Another track inspection with seven minutes left, the track closed for the day.

Josef Newgarden’ s earlier time of 228. 856 held as the fastest of the day. Alexander Rossi was 34th quickest but had the fastest no tow speed.

Alonso talked to NBC Sports about his accident.

“It was understeer on the car, and even if I lifted the throttle on the entry of the corner, it was not enough, and I lost completely the front aero. The wall came too close and too quickly. Unfortunately, it happened today. We will lose a little bit of running time again. I鈥檓 sorry for the team, but we will learn and hopefully, we will come back stronger tomorrow. I鈥檓 disappointed and sad for the team and for the guys. We worked quite a lot on the car and definitely now it鈥檚 quite damaged, so I feel sorry for the team and for my mistake. We will learn from this and hopefully tomorrow we鈥檙e back on track and back stronger鈥

McLaren is repairing the primary car and also building the backup car. they will try both tomorrow and decide which car to qualify.

Notes

The F1 grid lines are slowly returning as the sealant lightens.

Newgarden said that like last year it is difficult to follow especially in a deep pack of cars. He thinks the race will be similar to last year, but it will depend on the temperature. A cooler day might see better racing than a warm day. Newgarden also noted that the team or other teams as well have not tried all the downforce and aero tools Indycar has made available this year.

Rossi said the team completed their checklist for today and then parked the car. He didn’t seem concerned about his speed ranking today and thought being first on the no tow list was irrelevant.

Toyota, Alonso Win; Wet 12 Hours of Sebring Next

Good morning from a very wet and rainy Sebring Raceway. The forecast calls for rain most of the day.

Late last night the first WEC 1000 miles of Sebring concluded in the rain. The yellow at the end didn’t change the outcome. The number 8 Toyota Gazoo, co driven by Fernando Alonso, won by a two lap margin over the team’s second car. The third place car was five laps down.

This is the second straight Weather Tech Championship race that will be affected by rain. We’ll see what happens. Hope to have a mid race update this afternoon.

The race will start on CNBC then switch to NBCSN at 3.

Sebring Update: Alonso Leads Early; Penske Takes 12 Hour Pole

Fernando Alonso and his Toyota Gazoo team have dominated the first 35 minutes of the 1,000 Miles of Sebring. The two car team occupied the front row and began lapping the field very quickly.

Cameron Wins Pole for Penske

The number 6 Penske Acura driven by Fane Cameron won the pole for tomorrow’s聽 12 Hours of Sebring. Team Joest car number 77 completes the front row.

In GTLM Porsche 911 won the pole and it’s teammate 912 starts second.In GTD Meyer Shank Racing number 86 will lead the group. The number 57 Shank car starts 6th in clasd.

Full qualifying story tomorrow along with a wrap up of the 1,000 mile race.