Alonso: Three-car team nullifies 2019 issues

Michelle Foster
Fernando Alonso

Fernando Alonso

Rejoining McLaren for a third Indy 500 attempt, Fernando Alonso is confident having a three-car team will nullify all of last year’s troubles.

Last year Alonso failed to qualify for the Indianapolis 500 in his McLaren-backed Carlin entry.

The Spaniard’s build-up to qualifying was a case of what could go wrong did go wrong, from an incorrect paint job to a practice crash that cost him a full day out on track.

In the end he just didn’t have the speed on the day to qualify.

This year Alonso is again with McLaren for the Indianapolis 500, however, this time around it is a three-car team.

McLaren have entered a full IndyCar programme for 2020 with Patricio O’Ward and Oliver Askew as the team full-time drivers while Alonso is in a third car just for the Indy.

“I think being a one-car team was a big penalty for us last year,” he explained to Autosport.

“We had a couple of issues. We had not the real ability that we wanted in the first couple of tests, and obviously we didn’t have much information.

“This year with three cars, even if you have a bad day, you’re still learning a lot of things from the other two cars.

“So I think that will be a good advantage, plus the team is not new, [Arrow Schmidt Peterson] has been racing for many, many years in IndyCar, and the background and all the knowledge I think is going to be very beneficial with the things that McLaren can add to that project.

“It was a project that was already existing. So that’s the second thing.”

As for his decision to rejoin McLaren for the Indianapolis 500, Alonso says “loyality” to the McLaren brand played a big role in his decision.

The double F1 World Champion had been in talks with Andretti Autosport but those fell through reportedly when Honda nixed the deal.

Alonso said: “The final decision was not easy because I think between Andretti and McLaren, maybe people think that Andretti can be more competitive, maybe other people will think that it could be McLaren.

“That’s something that is difficult to know in advance before the race happens.

“But you know, I think and I trust this project a little bit more, and I have this sense of loyalty, as well, to McLaren and to our fans that last year had high hopes – as we had – and we didn’t show up on the race on the big weekend.

“I think we have this kind of… not obligation, but this kind of feeling that we need to give something back, and this year we will go for it.

“The loyalty that I have for McLaren, when you need to make a decision like this one that I made is the same as the loyalty that I have for Toyota over the last two years.

“McLaren gave me so much over the last five years, that I think to land in McLaren and share it, a lot goes into it from my side.”

Alonso needs to win the Indianapolis 500 to become only the second driver in history to bag the Triple Crown, which includes F1’s Monaco GP and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Follow us on Twitter @Planet_F1 and like our Facebook page.