F1 - Especiales

Is the Alonso-McLaren partnership over?

After Fernando Alonso and McLaren failed to qualify for the Indy 500, we are arguing whether their partnership is drawing to a close or can still be revived by new challenges.

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Is the Alonso-McLaren partnership over?
Fuente imagen: Fernando Alonso Twitter

Following his shocking failed attempt to enter the Indy 500, Fernando Alonso seems to have reconsidered his position with McLaren. What the two parties recently said about each other and their commitment might give us a clearer picture of their working relationship, in order to understand if they will go separate ways in the 2020 Indy 500.

The Spaniard reiterated that contesting a full IndyCar season would not benefit him, since his ultimate target is winning the Triple Crown. Moreover, the Indianapolis round is the first race at an oval track in the running order of the season. Hence the previous rounds would not stand for an adequate preparation looking towards the iconic 500-mile race.

“If I so Indy, a one-off will be the approach again. -he said- To do the full season at the moment is too much of a commitment in terms of races. If you go there, you should be in contention; you are not a tourist.”

Now that his intentions towards the Indy 500 are clearer, the next step is to understand how Alonso’s partnership with McLaren will evolve. The Spaniard stated that he is open to evaluating a number of different offers, since his target is winning.

“I will have to see what the possibilities are. If I go back to Indy, I will explore whatever possibilities there are and then choose the most competitive one”
Therefore, Alonso and McLaren at Indy may no longer co-exist as one. Zak Brown confirmed that McLaren’s Indy 500 comeback had a broader purpose, which was not exclusively focussed on providing Alonso with a seat. Setting up a team from scratch was the beginning of a new term for the Woking-based squad.

“We were never doing Indianapolis for Fernando. I think it would ne a great story to win it with him, having won Monaco with him. Maybe in the future we will go racing in France together, but for sure, McLaren has been around a long time, long after Fernando stops driving. So whether Fernando wanted to drive for us or not wouldn’t drive our decision on whether we go back to Indy or not.”
Brown later stressed that McLaren holds a good relationship with the Spaniard, but those words do not manage to sugarcoat what he previously said.

It is safe to say that the whole Indy 500 campaign for McLaren in 2019 was a huge blow, but had it not been there for Alonso, would he have found a seat to compete nonetheless? I don’t think so. One-off races that belong to a category possess dynamics that make it more difficult for outsiders to enter them. Teams and drivers are already set, with contracts and stipulations. Hence I believe no one would have taken the risk of putting one of their own drivers on the bench, just to let Alonso drive for the most prestigious race on the calendar. What Andretti did in 2017 was an exception, since the mediatic impact of Alonso’s participation had made it extremely convenient. But given that the Spaniard had compromised his relationship with Honda, and the most competitive Chevy-powered teams were already suited and booted with their drivers, there were not many options left.

However, the outcome in 2020 might be different. The clarity over Alonso’s position will be crucial to get him a top-player seat for next year, especially if ties between him and McLaren get cut on the short-term.
The incompatibility between their projects is utterly striking, since Alonso feels the urge to win as soon as possible, whereas McLaren has just embarked on long-term processes in both F1 (after the split with Honda) and IndyCar.

McLaren could actually leave the door open for Alonso at some point, but if they both want to pursue their own targets and challenges, they shall do it separately.

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