Alonso says Indy 500 move wouldn’t have happened under Dennis

2017 Monaco Grand Prix

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Fernando Alonso says his shock decision to race at the Indianapolis 500 would not have happened when Ron Dennis was still in charge at McLaren.

Asked if Dennis would have allowed him to miss the Monaco Grand Prix to race at Indianapolis, Alonso said “I guess not.”

“I think Zak [Brown, McLaren CEO] is a man that has a bigger vision than other team principals or bosses that I’ve had.”

“He sees motorsport differently, he sees McLaren bigger, not only concentrated in Formula One. McLaren won Le Mans a couple of times, won the Indy 500 in the past as well a couple of times. He’s a true racer. It’s great that McLaren and Zak joined forces last year.”

Formula One’s new owners Liberty Media are also more open to drivers racing in other categories, Alonso said, but he said the decision was down to him and McLaren.

“I don’t think they have a key role in all these decisions,” said Alonso, “it’s more a team decision.”

“But I think they are more open than in the past. We’ll see also with all the things we are allowed to do here now, a little bit more relaxed environment. I think it’s also great for Formula One.”

Alonso said yesterday McLaren’s poor performance this year has helped make the move possible, but he stressed he his desire to race in other categories is not new.

“It’s not that it came to our mind because this year we are struggling, or last year or the last two years,” he said.

“This is something that I keep repeating from 2014, I remember being in Ferrari and talking about the possibility to [Marco] Mattiacci and people in Ferrari even racing 24 Hours of Le Mans with a [Ferrari] 458. So it’s nothing new because of the performance of this year.”

Asked when he might find the time to race at Le Mans, Alonso jokingly replied: “I don’t know. It’s between Canada and Baku, no? We’ll see how many flight connections there are.”

2017 Monaco Grand Prix

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    Keith Collantine
    Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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    32 comments on “Alonso says Indy 500 move wouldn’t have happened under Dennis”

    1. Yeah check out Hinchcliffe’s tweet yesterday saying the same thing.

    2. You cannot win the championship if you don’t race, so going AWOL is stupid. But I guess McLarens car is garbage so it makes no difference.

      1. It’s not AWOL if your boss allows it.

      2. petebaldwin (@)
        13th April 2017, 15:16

        It would be stupid if he was in a car that had a chance of winning the Championship. As it stands, he is only trying to gain points to help the team beat Sauber and Toro Rosso in the Constructors title so him missing a race makes absolutely no difference.

      3. How is this affecting McLaren’s chances in the World Constructor’s Championship? They will have two cars on the grid, one driven by Vandoorne and one driven by some yet to be named person.

    3. I imagine the flipside is that if they were in any kind of even remote contention for either title it wouldn’t happen either.

    4. On one hand, I’m surprised given how tight the midfield battle is this year. With some improvements they’re gonna be clear of Sauber, and in the mix with Renault, Toro Rosso, Haas and FI, so every point will count surely, especially given the inexperience of Vandoorne.

      On the other hand, McLaren will do anything to keep him signed on for next year. Similar thing happened at Ferrari in 2014 with Luca’s public displays, touting him as the greatest driver Ferrari have had – because they knew they were on the verge of losing him.

    5. The biggest thing Alonso will have to adapt to is the average speed. He will average speeds for 500 miles faster than he’s ever went on the fastest F1 straight for seconds. He will enter the turns at faster speeds than he’s went on a straight. His 4 laps of qualifying trimmed out to the ragged edge will be the most terrifying of his life, guaranteed. This will be incredibly interesting to see how he does.

      1. Actually he wont go faster than he has ever been, no doubt that he’ll average a much higher speed. New car, new ovals, new rivals and pit stops and so forth. Master stroke from Zak and Alonso. I was starting to think Zak was just a stand in. Now the whole world is interested in Indy and the US will be interested in mclaren and what are they doing in Indy.
        Nevertheless as Ron I wouldnt allow alonso to do Indy, even considering Zak is going to paint the andretti honda orange. Its much more dangerous than f1, in the past some teams allowed their drivers to do some pro driving, look at kubica and pascal, disasters happen very easily, look at motogp now they hurt themselves worse in training than on racing.

      2. In years gone by grand prix greats tackled other genre’s and amazed us by superlative performances. You maybe right perhaps The 500 will prove to much for Fernando , if it does F1 becomes truly second rate, let’s hope he can amaze us.

    6. Stupid
      They are meant to be an F1 team.

      They aren’t competitive in F1 so they pop over to Indy 500, in a car made by someone else and try and win with their 2xWDC driver.

      They can’t compete in F1 and will make a mockery of Indy car weather they win or loose there.

      This will mainly make Honda look good as Fred in a car powered by them will look competitive, especially to their sizeable US market. The same was meant to be true in ROW but Honda just can’t compete even against Renault.

      1. Who is Fred? ROW? How will McLaren make a mockery of the weather at the Indy 500?

        1. @the-last-pope Well he mentions they will make a mockery of Indycar, win or loose. This tells me they are either going to destroy the competition in Indy or they are going to have fun. Hopefully they do both.

          1. @dragon86 Well they aint gonna destroy the competition thats for sure. Hopefully he will be able to keep up with the frontrunners or he will make himself look bad.

      2. petebaldwin (@)
        13th April 2017, 21:33

        @9chris9 – McLaren are pretty much taking part as a sponsor. I imagine the car will be painted up with this year’s livery and sponsors but it’s Andretti Autosport really – the team that won last year with rookie Alexander Rossi in the car……

        I think it’s a great call by McLaren. They get the prime advertising spot for the driver everyone will be talking about at the Indy 500! If he’s competitive, it’ll look absolutely brilliant on them. Even if he isn’t, it’s the first time anyone has had anything positive to say about McLaren for 3 years!

        On top of that, it’ll keep Alonso happy. If he was in the Mercedes this year or the Ferrari, I’d expect him to fight for the Championship. He’s a top driver but he’s given 3 years to McLaren and for the entire time, they’ve been well off the pace. They owe him the chance to show what he can do and have a bit of success. He’ll come back much happier and motivated as well having been allowed to take part.

      3. “They are meant to be an F1 team.”
        – You silly :) They are not “meant” to be anything. They define who they are and what they do.

        “They aren’t competitive in F1 so they pop over to Indy 500,”
        – And how does that not make sense, huh?

        “in a car made by someone else.”
        – That’s how you do it in the US. You buy a car and race it. Racing PURE.

        In 1999, the Target Chip Ganassi from CART/ChampCar bought an IRL car specifically to take part in Indy500 and their driver, Juan Pablo Montoya, won the race.

      4. Look MUMMMMY!!!

        I’m doing typing

    7. What a loser team to let go of their best driver in the GP where he actually could do it ok – makes me think ALO is in charge of the team….

      1. Anyone can sit in that car and hope for the topcars to dnf, they dont need Alonso in Monaco.

        1. The difference between a season high finish and finishing outside the points depends on whether Alonso is driving the car. But.. I think Mclaren need to focus on keeping their star driver happy instead of focusing on points this season

          1. Considering their car isn’t guaranteed to finnish the race, might as well try something different.

    8. Alonso is a great driver without doubt but he fully deserves the career he has had.

      Good luck to him.

    9. Ron Dennis being a smart person had his reasons which were right!

      1. Purely for safety reasons. A driver is a team’s brand, you have to protect that brand. Look for instance what happened to Kubica and to a lesser extent, Wehrlein, even though not a regular occurrence, why take the risk.

    10. The PR stunt is working, nobody is talking about how pathetic Mclaren-Honda are.
      Unfortunately for them there is a race sunday…
      If he had a slight chance of doing well in Monaco he wouldn’t be doing that, so.. i don’t buy that “racer” speach. He could do that other times, it’s not a must do it this year… Well, lets see how they go, in Indy, and especially on sunday.

    11. Estaban de los Casas
      13th April 2017, 21:21

      How unfortunate Alonso has been to join the right team at the wrong time now twice!! There was a time when it seemed he could have become World Drivers Champion at least a half dozen times but Ferrari sucked and now McLaren blows chunks and imagine how awful they would be without him.
      He was everybodys choice to replace Nico but instead he honors his contract with the pitiful McLaren. I suggest he rekindle his interests and do Indy. He should also consider the WEC and dare l suggest the Australian Super Trucks too after seeing the recent Adelaide event. Who wouldn’t want to race one of those incredible Racetrucks. He is far too good to waste anymore time in Formula One. Thank you Fernando for the gift of seeing you race Grand Prix Cars. Go conquer INDY

      1. He was at McLaren when they were near the top and he only has himself to blame for that fallout

    12. So much negativity on the comments. Considering how things stand in f1, it’s a great idea for Mclaren Honda and Alonso and a phenomenal idea for us fans.

    13. There is a lot of merit in this idea. For Fernando it gives him the opportunity to show how good he is as a driver, and for McLaren it gets their name in the public arena. I’m not sure if the Indianapolis 500 is broadcast on Free to Air TV, but if it is then it will also give McLaren and Honda (and maybe some of their sponsors) some well deserved publicity.
      If Fernando does well, and especially if he wins, then other F1 drivers might be inclined to want to do this race as well.

      1. I’m in Canada and I can tell you for sure that the Indy 500 will be on standard TV, likely American channel ABC I’ll assume. If not them then one of the American big 4 channels which are available on even the most basic cable/satellite packages. I don’t think Indycar would survive if it was on a pay-per-view setup.

    14. Overheard on lap 125 of the Indy 500 from the number 29 Andretti Autosport McLaren Honda: “what the,…,Indy Lights engine! Indy lights engine!”

    15. …or Ecclestone?

      Pleasant surprise to see some grown-up thinking and awareness of a world beyond F1. Maybe it’ll lead to things like an end to the date clash, the Indy GP becoming an F1 race again.

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