Harding-Steinbrenner 2019 IndyCar rendering

Harding-Steinbrenner IndyCar deal may open door for Alonso

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IndyCar team Harding, which has been rumoured as a potential destination for Fernando Alonso if he joins the series, today announced a new partnership with Steinbrenner Racing and an expanded driver line-up for its 2019 campaign.

The two-times Formula 1 world champion was not named in the team’s two-car entry for next year’s IndyCar championship. Rookies Patricio O’Ward and Colton Herta, who made their debuts for the team in last weekend’s season finale, will drive the cars.

However the absence of any information on what engines the team will use next year hint at the behind-the-scenes moves related to Alonso’s efforts to enter the series in collaboration with McLaren and Andretti, who he raced for in the 2017 Indianapolis 500.

The potential engine supply for Alonso’s car has proved a sticking point. He is contracted to Honda’s rivals Toyota in the World Endurance Championship until at least next June, by which time the 2019 IndyCar season will be halfway through. And Alonso repreatedly criticised Honda’s power units during thier unsuccessful 2015-17 stint with McLaren in F1.

But with Andretti contracted to use Honda IndyCar engines until the end of next year, finding a route for Alonso into IndyCar with them and McLaren is proving more difficult that last year when both teams used the Japanese manufacturer’s engines and Alonso could pilot a McLaren-Andretti-Honda.

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With a question mark hanging over the supply of engines to the new Harding-Steinbrenner team, more options may now be on the table.

The team fielded two of the 11 Chevrolet-engined cars in last weekend’s race, against 14 Hondas. If Harding-Steinbrenner switch to Honda, the split would become 9/16.

This points to two possibilities: new Chevrolet-engined cars appearing or existing Honda teams flipping to Chevrolet. The latter is more likely given Honda is believed to be against stretching it supply commitments much further.

Patricio O'Ward, Harding, IndyCar, Sonoma, 2018
Harding’s O’Ward impressed on his debut by qualifying fifth
Alternatively, Harding may remain with Chevrolet. In this scenario the possibility remains that Alonso may arrive in IndyCar through a deal involving Harding-Steinbrenner running a further car with a combination of Andretti and McLaren staff.

There are existing ties between the teams. Steinbrenner and Andretti began collaborating an Indy Lights team last year: Herta is a graduate of the joint programme while O’Ward drove for Andretti. Harding’s expansion to a two-car squad in time for last weekend’s race is believed to have involved some Andretti staff.

The team’s management said its 2019 engine plans are “still in the process of being figured out” and would not be drawn on the nature of any future relationship with Andretti. In a response to a question from RaceFans team consultant Al Unser Jnr pointed out they had taken until until January this year to confirm their current engine supply deal, indicating a decision may not come quickly.

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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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  • 19 comments on “Harding-Steinbrenner IndyCar deal may open door for Alonso”

    1. Thanks for the update, Keith.

      Afraid Indy has too many teams (most with long unmemorable names) and not enough engine suppliers. Maybe Todt and Liberty can help Indy attract new engine manufacturers and assist them with the stigma of ‘spec-series’ with fresh graphics and more emphasis on sexy thong safety.

      ;-)

      1. Cynicism is so much funnier than sarcasm…

      2. @jimmi-cynic Harding-Steinbrenner-Andretti-McLaren-Chevrolet would be a bit much…

        1. @keithcollantine Probably add Kimoa in there as well. :)

          1. @keithcollantine @jimmi-cynic Alright here goes. If they were Chevrolet-Harding-Andretti-McLaren-PFC-Steinbrenner they would simply be known as C-H-A-M-P-S.

            Lol had to google Indycar sponsors for the ‘P’…from PFC Brakes.

            Sorry…I’ll see myself out.

            1. @robbie: Good one! Except for Indy loathing the Champ car reference. ;-)

            2. Nice research lol

    2. They have not confirmed the engine, but on the livery you can clearly see the Chevrolet logo. Maybe it’s just a bad render or an unofficial image.

    3. Why dont Mclaren simply enter two cars themselves with Chevrolet engines? They can put Alonso and Vandoorne, both in orange.

      Not sure what the Indy budget is. But surely, some of that wasted money that went into making this year’s F1 car slower than last year’s, could have been spent on Indy. And think of the marketing potential for Mclaren in the US market.

      1. @vjanik: Expect Zak would do that in a hearbeat. McLaren’s owners tho, are hooked on the McLaren F1 legacy and prestige – whilst it rusts away through their carbon fibre follies.

        Maybe they could compromise and bring back CanAm… ;-)

      2. I agree. I’ve heard indycar runs about US $10 million/season or so (not sure how many cars that included) but I feel like the Ferraris and Mercedes of the world spend more money developing front wing appendages than it would take to run an Indycar.

      3. They also need chassis and personnel to run the cars. They have zero experience with IndyCars, so would rather team up with an existing team, like Andretti.

        So, imho, their best bet would be to run Alonso in a third Harding car, named something like McLaren Harding.

        Don’t know where that leaves Chaves, though, as he has a contract for 2019 with Harding.

        1. Wasn’t Chaves present in the Harding-Steinbrenner announcement press conference?

    4. I don’t recall ever beeing a pin striped livery before. The New York Yankee-Chevy is going to happen.

    5. As good as Alonso is, running in Indy Car can only be a good thing thing since it is a driver based series not a car development one. If McLaren ran a partnership team with Harding they should be able to run at the front even with the Chevy engine. There’s a sort of irony at work here, the old Can-Am McLaren cars ran huge 8.1 ltr big block Chevy V8 engine’s in the 71 M8F to the tune of 720 plus horsepower. The Indy car engines are making about 700 on full boost. So Alonso should be able to make a good showing of his racing talent. If they could make a two car expansion team and put Vandoorn in it along with Alonso and have incredible success in America it would be uplifting to the whole McLaren group and would hopefully give encouragement to the F1 team to pull it together. I guess we will see how it all works out. Maybe Alonso will learn that his scorched earth policy is not the way to conduct yourself.

      1. Don’t fall for the “Alonso has burnt too many bridges” BS. Yes, he is a polarizing figure and could make life a little easier on himself by playing office politics but that isn’t who he is and I think it’s refreshing and good for F1 even though I don’t always agree with him.

        It isn’t as if he won’t be able to continue racing. His leaving F1 will be a blessing to him – he can join Indy car, Formula E etc. and experience true racing again.

        F1 is not all it’s drummed up to be. If a driver is lucky enough to get a Merc or Ferrari seat, he has a shot (unless he’s a butler). The rest of the teams are midfielders and if a driver is cool with getting a big paycheck but no shot at a WDC, more power to him. Alonso isn’t.

        1. @Mick I think that is well said. I agree that a change will be as good as a rest for FA, and while all series have some degree of politics I think Indycar has a minimal amount compared to F1. I think if he ends up in Indycar full time he’ll be having too much fun and be too relaxed to find time for politics, politics that he likely looks forward to seeing in his rear view mirrors anyways and will not want to invite to come along.

    6. Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Fernando Alonso

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