Column: McLaren pull masterstroke with Indy 500 deal

Published on 12 Apr 2017 15:51

Motorsport today received its biggest headline since 'Nico Rosberg retires' as Fernando Alonso announced he would not be taking part in the Monaco Grand Prix, instead travelling overseas to Indianapolis to race in the prestigious Indy 500.  

The Spaniard continues to grab the headlines, but this time it is a welcome change as the words 'engine' or 'failure' do not exist in the story. Much has been made over the future of the 35-year-old, as he seeks to return to the top of Formula 1. With McLaren looking to be on the verge of a crisis, few expect that Alonso will stick around for another year.

I have a suspicious feeling that this deal for Alonso to race in the Indy 500 is much, much deeper than what we are so far seeing. Let's just think back to what Alonso has been saying from Australia: "I am the fastest through the corners, but the slowest on the straights". A bold statement, clearly targeting Honda, but if the comments are true, then why would McLaren allow Alonso to miss Monaco?

The two most important factors of Monaco - driver skill and a decent chassis. McLaren's chassis doesn't appear to be too bad, especially after the comments made from Alonso. And he has proven that despite being in the latter stages of his career, he still possess skill and speed. Engine power is not a major necessity in the Monaco streets, as there are no long straights.

So, realistically, Monaco is McLaren-Honda's and Alonso's best bet for their biggest haul of points this season. Alonso is certainly the lead driver at McLaren (not taking anything away from Vandoorne's abilities) but he is just much more experienced and it is usually something he demands in a contract.

McLaren knows that losing Alonso for Monaco will be painful, but this deal will not be for nothing. Expect an announcement sometime that Alonso will be staying on with the Woking based team for 2018 because letting him leave at their potential strongest track is a loss for McLaren. But if that choice comes with the decision for him to extend his contract, then very well done Mr Brown.


Fergal Walsh

Replies (3)
Posts: 37
"... as the words 'engine' or 'failure' do not exist in the story."
GB f1fan0101 12 Apr 2017 18:050
Posts: 1303
Seems reasonable.. i want him to stay around in F1, but in a competitive car!!
Posts: 25
This is also a good marketting ploy for McLaren.
It's created a huge shock headline already.

It will also probably pique interest from both Indycar fans to look at F1 with the circus that will no doubt surround Alonso competing in this event, but more impotantly, might catch the eye of potential new sponsors for McLaren Honda F1, assuming by that point they have a reasonable engine and are starting to perform a little better.

It seems to be a smart move all-round.

As a side note, it also gives Jenson an opportunity to get in the cockpit with minimal effort (being based in Monaco already). He has many many fans, who feel a bit cheated by the early exit from his "last" drive in an F1 car.
As stated in the article, it may be a track where he could bag a decent haul of points for McLaren as it flatters a good chassis over outright engine power..... which would look great for him, if he decided to end his sabatical/retirement and partake in the silly season seat grab for 2018, which is bound to be quite bonkers.

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