The Fernando Alonso / McLaren marriage needs to end. An annulment might not even be enough for the anguish these two sides have endured together.
After failing to give Alonso a car capable enough of even sniffing a podium, let alone even winning in Formula 1 they decided to try their hand at IndyCar. Unsurprisingly McLaren has once again failed to produce a competitive car for Alonso.
Fernando Alonso has a zero percent chance of winning the 2019 Indy 500. In fact, he only has about a 50% chance of even making the field for the 103rd running of the greatest spectacle in racing. McLaren International have given Alonso a car only capable of being 31st quickest on the board.
How many more years are these two sides going to put themselves through this? For Alonso this struggle dates back to 2007 when he joined McLaren for a single season to partner then rookie Lewis Hamilton. The infighting at McLaren between the two sides of the garage saw Alonso leave at years end. The two sides rekindled under a new regime at the Woking factory. Alonso rejoined the team in 2015 to partner with Jenson Button and Honda to revive the once great partnership between McLaren and Honda.
Obviously we all know how that went. Things were so bad Alonso skipped the 2017 Monaco GP to run the Indy 500 in a partnership between McLaren and Andretti Autosport. That partnership garnered fantastic results for the 2-time world champ. He led laps and was in contention to win until his Honda engine expired. Pretty apropos for the the Alonso/Honda relationship.
Flash forward and Alonso has retired from F1 (for now) and has done nothing but win every sports car race he’s been in. 24 Hours of LeMans, 12 hours of Sebring, 6 Hours of Spa, Daytona 24, etc. all without the help of McLaren. Now he returns to the speedway with McLaren and shocker, they’re completely uncompetitive.
When McLaren announced they were going to build the car themselves in England and partner with Carlin Racing everyone had immediate trepidation. Why would you do this? Alonso’s comments about the Honda F1 engine assured he wouldn’t get a Honda engine when he returned to the speedway. So with the Andretti partnership off the table McLaren was left with a Chevy power plant. The strongest Chevy team is Penske of course and they wouldn’t partner with pope. The next strongest Chevy team is Ed Carpenter Racing, you know the team that finished second in this race last year and has their car on provisional pole this year? Yeah McLaren skipped over them and partnered with Carlin.
Did McLaren go cheap with this attempt at the Indy 500? Based off their speed it appears so. Alonso has been painfully slow all week. An early week crash hampered their chances of dialing in the primary car. On Saturday he was bumped out of the field and will have to fight for the last row Sunday (or Monday) for a shot to race next week.
Do they even want to race though? At this point they’re embarrassingly slow, their race pace likely won’t be much better this late into the month. Is it more embarrassing to miss the race or run 30th all day with the most talented driver in the world? A good driver can make up time, but not even the best driver can find 5 mph at the speedway.
After Saturday Alonso was asked if he was stressed about not making the race. His response was not at all. And while people made a big deal out of it why would he be stressed?
For Alonso, he may need to look for opportunities outside of McLaren. Whether that’s a return to F1 with a different team, running the 500 with a better team next year, or doing something entirely different. One thing we know for certain is Alonso and McLaren don’t garner the results everyone expects. The sample size is large enough to see that.
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