They say love is better the second time around. Unfortunately this has been far from the case for McLaren F1. Their second go with Honda Power has been nothing short of disastrous. Honda has managed to make a Power Unit that provides the double whammy of terrible. They’re under powered and unreliable, you don’t have to be a Formula 1 uber-geek to know that is a recipe for disaster. Furthermore these past few seasons have been a complete loss for one of this generations best drivers. Fernando Alonso should be fighting with Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton. Alonso fought and beat the great Michael Schumacher during the Spaniard’s early career with Renault. Now, he’s lucky to finish races and even luckier to score points.
As a result McLaren has made a deal with IndyCar. Yes, IndyCar, the deal will allow McLaren to enter a single car driven by Alonso. The car will be run by Andretti Autosport stable and Michael Andretti will be Alonso’s strategist. You may remember Michael had his own foray into Formula 1, it did not go well. Either way Alonso is one of the best drivers in the world. Andretti Autosport is one of the best IndyCar teams around, it would appear Alonso is in with a shot at actually winning something this year. Oh and Andretti uses Honda engines which means Alonso will get a chance to drive a Honda that isn’t constantly 3 seconds away from exploding.
How massive is this news? One, a F1 World Champion is always a welcome sight at Indy. Two, this is fairly unprecedented in the modern F1 age. Sure in the past it was commonplace for drivers to race in multiple different disciplines. F1, Indy, Sportscars, in the past drivers used to drive it all. Not so much these days. It was just last year that Force India didn’t allow their driver Nico Hulkenburg to defend his overall victory at Le Mans. All so he could race at Baku in the European Grand Prix. Baku is hardly Monaco and Force India doesn’t have the pedigree of McLaren. Make no mistake this is a very big deal, one nobody saw coming.
In the end if Alonso wanted to do this then McLaren was completely correct to let him do it. The fact that they appear to be supporting the whole enterprise is even better. Who knows this might lead McLaren to take a closer look at the American open wheel series. It may even open the door for Alonso to race at Le Mans sooner rather than later. Either way this news is only good news. Fernando was going to struggle to score points at Monaco, now we get to see him fight for victory in America’s greatest race.