One intriguing rumor that was making the rounds in the Formula 1 paddock in Abu Dhabi was that two-time F1 champion Fernando Alonso continues to talk to Andretti Autosport about a ride for the 2020 Indianapolis 500.
The racing marriage would seem a little odd given that Honda in Japan is not overly keen on Alonso, who they see as having been largely responsible for the embarrassing debacle with McLaren in Formula 1. After all, it was Alonso who made the infamous comment that racing with Honda was like racing “a GP2 engine.”
This so upset Honda officials that this year the McLaren team was not given Honda engines for the Indy 500. That left McLaren to put together a team with Chevrolet, and that turned out to be a total disaster as Alonso failed to qualify.
There is little doubt that with the right package, Alonso would be competitive as he was in 2017 when he led 27 laps before going out with engine trouble en route to finishing 24th, but is that enough to convince Honda to support another attempt with Andretti Autosport? One can see how this might be attractive to American Honda, but over in Japan attitudes may be different.
The intriguing thing about the rumor is its possible origin. Did Alonso approach Andretti with the idea? Or did Andretti approach Alonso?
Since it was announced that McLaren was going into business with Schmidt Peterson to form Arrow McLaren SP, it has been widely assumed that this organization would end up running three cars in the Indy 500 with Patricio O’Ward and Oliver Askew being joined by Alonso. The team oversaw four cars this year at Indy, but the switch to Chevrolet engines may make this more difficult. It is not, in essence, a new team but the organization has never finished better than third in the 500—and Alonso is only interested in outright victory, as he chases racing’s Triple Crown (F1 Monaco Grand Prix, 24 Hours of Le Mans, Indy 500), having already nabbed the first two parts.
Andretti already has a five-car lineup for the 500, with two previous winners in Alexander Rossi and Ryan Hunter-Reay, two rising stars in Zach Veach and Colton Herta, with the fifth car being for his son Marco, who has not won an IndyCar race since 2011. With Alonso aboard it might improve the team’s chances of winning again, but it might also overload the organization, and could even annoy the folks at Honda—which might not be the smartest thing to do.
It will be interesting to see which way the Alonso-Honda feud falls!
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!