Fernando Alonso is skipping the Monaco Grand Prix to race in the Indianapolis 500. No F1 driver has done this since Jim Clark back in 1965. Interesting side note, even though he skipped the Monaco GP Clark still won the World Driver’s Championship in ’65. Clark dominated the ’65 500 on his way to victory. Clark is still the only driver to win the 500 and the World Championship in the same year.
Alonso and McLaren’s decision to forgo Monaco in favor of Indianapolis has been the talk of the F1 paddock. Most think what Alonso is doing is extremely cool especially considering McLaren-Honda’s struggles. While most drivers would love the chance to race at Indy none of them said they would miss Monaco to do so. Still, there are some with a more extreme view of the situation. In fact Red Bull boss, Christian Horner has some very strong opinions.
“It is a difficult one for Fernando as he is having a tough time,” explained Horner in Bahrain on Friday. “Zak Brown (McLaren executive director) has this problem. He has a depressed driver on his hands and he is trying to keep him motivated.”
This is very true, McLaren is just not relevant in Formula 1 right now. They have one of the best drivers in the world but can’t provide him with something even remotely competitive. Alonso is a fierce competitor and to be so non-competitive has got to be wearing on him. Horner hit it right on the head, McLaren has to do something to make Alonso happy. Indy is a way of thanking Alonso for his service while the team struggles with the car (specifically the Honda power unit).
“He (Brown) has come up with this idea to send him to Indianapolis, but he must be barking mad. It is the nuttiest race I have ever seen,” Horner said.
Ok Christian you clearly don’t watch a lot of American racing. Yes Indy is fast, the fastest circuit race in the world, but have you ever seen figure 8 racing? You want nuttery, go watch one of those races. That said I can see Horner’s underlying point, Indy is dangerous. Average laps well over 200 miles per hour, huge G loads in the corners it is a beast of a race for man and machine.
“No testing. He is just going to jump in the car. Turn 1 is a proper Turn as well, it is not easy flat all the way around. So I think he needs to see a psychiatrist personally.”
“No testing” isn’t exactly accurate. Yes Alonso has never driven at Indy in an IndyCar on the full Oval, however he will get to test before the race weekend. In fact he is required to participate in the Indy 500 Rookie test before he does anything else. So Alonso isn’t exactly going into the race blind. Even so, this is Fernando Alonso he is among the world’s best drivers, if anyone is capable of getting in a car with limited testing and go fast and do so safely, it is Alonso.
Personally I’d love to see more F1 drivers do more of the major races. I think F1 should seriously consider altering their schedule around these other big races. Move the Monaco GP date to give other driver’s the chance to compete. Le Mans is another big race that current F1 drivers should have the chance to compete in. Hell, Lewis Hamilton has even expressed interest in racing in the Daytona 500. How is this cross platform racing anything other than a good thing? Everybody wins, the series gain exposure to new fan bases, the drivers are happy and most importantly it would be a huge win for the fans.
In the classic years drivers drove in multiple disciplines all the time. F1, Indy, Sportscars and Stock Cars old school drivers used to drive them all. That is why the 60’s are often considered the golden era of motorsport. With the modern state of big time race teams we will never see it on the same scale as it was in the 60’s but we can get close. It wouldn’t take much to get back to at least a taste of that era. What race fan out there wouldn’t want that?