Artículo

Alonso, McLaren and the Indy 500: Will it be a success?

17 abril 2017 10:44

Fernando Alonso complained that he had never driven with so little power as his McLaren spluttered around the Bahrain Grand Prix before failing to finish for the third time this season.

He won't have similar complaints on May 28 as he bolts around the Indianapolis Speedway at over 230 miles per hour in the Indy 500.

If you don't know already, the two-time Formula One champion will set his sights on the 'Trple Crown' of race wins at the Monaco Grand Prix, Indy 500 and Le Mans 24 Hours - only Graham Hill has ever triumphed all three.

Alonso will skip Monte Carlo in his pursuit of cross-formula glory, with Jenson Button returning to McLaren for that race.

With the Spaniard's long-term future in F1 thrown into doubt by McLaren's pathetic season to date, Jack Davies and Matthew Scott discuss the merits of recent developments.

 

IS IT GOOD FOR ALONSO?

JD: Absolutely. Alonso is one of the finest drivers of his generation and should have more than two titles to show for his efforts over the past 17 years in F1. He has been three times a runner-up to Sebastian Vettel - twice by four points or fewer - and he now finds himself in a car that is yet to carry him to the end of a race, let alone the championship. Alonso's is a name that deserves to go down in motor racing history and the 'Triple Crown' could be his best chance of achieving that, because his F1 story is on course to end in underachievement.

MS: Granted, Alonso's passion for F1 has been dampened by the start to 2017 that McLaren have made, but what is he really going to achieve in IndyCar? Alonso more or less admitted himself this week that this 'Triple Crown' had come into focus as he cannot win more F1 titles than Michael Schumacher any more. So how important is it to him, really? McLaren desperately need leadership and Alonso gives them exactly that, whether he realises it or not. As a two-time world champion, he has all the authority in the world to shake Honda out of their malaise and get back to the front of the grid with McLaren - that should be his priority.

 

IS IT GOOD FOR F1?

JD: It won't be bad for F1 by any means but, for me, IndyCar stands to gain more from this arrangement. That one of F1's great drivers is prepared to give up his place in the series' most prestigious race speaks volumes for the draw of the Indy 500, and Alonso will almost certainly take scores of viewers with him. That's not to say F1 won't see some benefit in the long run, but it seems more likely that having Alonso race in this American showpiece will attract more F1 fans to IndyCar than it does IndyCar fans to F1.

MS: Commercially, massively. IndyCar may get a short spike of interest in one event, but F1 is moving ever closer to really cracking America. First came the successful race, then a successful team, then American ownership - and now possibly one of F1's biggest stars in America's biggest motor race. There is even American influence at McLaren (which probably made all this possible). If Alonso were to come into the race and win, it would also prove that F1 remains the place to find the world's best drivers.

 

IS BUTTON THE RIGHT REPLACEMENT?

JD: I find it difficult to see who stands to gain from Button's return. I could understand it if McLaren needed somebody to step in at short notice, but the race is more than a month away and there is a test to come this week. In their current state McLaren have nothing to lose, so why not use the opportunity to blood a young driver? Button isn't even slated to attend this week's test, Oliver Turvey will accompany Stoffel Vandoorne in Bahrain. McLaren are calling on a 37-year-old Jenson Button, not Benjamin Button - handing an opportunity to a potential future star on the biggest stage would have far greater long-term benefits than giving an all-but-retired, but nonetheless great, former champion a lap of honour in a hapless Honda.

MS: McLaren cannot afford to take any unnecessary gambles here. If it were Stoffel Vandoorne leaving the team for one race, sure, throw in a development driver. But a team needs guarantees on every race weekend. Alonso gives them exactly that currently, and Button will give them exactly that at Monaco. The cars are faster in 2017, but they are not that much different to last year's. Button's smooth driving style made him a world champion - and Monaco GP winner - in 2009 and makes him the easy pick to fill in this time around.

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