“Two F1 world championships are in no way just rewards for Alonso’s talent”
Can someone please tell me what the upside is for Fernando Alonso to miss the opportunity of scoring possible points at the Monaco GP, and race at the Indy 500 instead? He’s taking huge risks, both reputational and safety-wise, chasing around an oval with only four corners, when we all know that where he excels is on tight, twisty, fast tracks. For me, he shouldn’t be doing it.
So what’s in it for him? He’s looking at a career where two world championships is in no way just rewards for his talent. To be fair, he never would have thought McLaren could be trawling the dregs of a barrel so badly as they currently are. It’s appalling, McLaren should be ashamed that it’s in a position where the car didn’t even make the starting line in Sochi. It’s crazy. It’s one disaster after another.
Given his situation, you can see why trying to win the Indy 500, and maybe one day Le Mans – emulating Graham Hill – is some light relief for him. But can he actually win it? Of course he can, he has the talent to do so, but his skills are more suited to places like Spa and Suzuka – tracks that require deep braking, quick direction changes and planning your exit out of a corner – at Indy the exact opposite applies. You have steep banking, you’ve got no run-of and you’ve got to keep the speed of the car up. He must have looked at the past and seen that Nigel Mansell went there and won the championship, but then Mansell committed himself to that championship for a full season. This is a completely diferent thing. And why give up on Monaco of all places? We all know it has a habit of being wet, and power isn’t so much of a factor. I don’t understand how the management agreed to let their star driver go of and drive for somebody else. If I was the boss I certainly wouldn’t have allowed it. In F1 he knows who to look out for – who the wild guy in the pack is – and can plan his moves accordingly. At the Indy 500, he doesn’t have that; he’s arriving for a one-of race. Of course he has to learn the track and is going there to test, which is sensible, unlike his one-race replacement, Jenson Button, who thinks he can drive this new McLaren car in a simulator then go and compete at Monaco, which I don’t agree with. But that’s a separate issue. Gone are the days when someone could go from Gaelic football to playing for Manchester United, as was the case with Kevin Moran in the Seventies. Professionalism, ftness and preparation is on a diferent level now; the sport has moved on and it’s impossible to reconnect with racers of the past, like the late John Surtees – a world champion on two wheels and four. In my opinion, these are targets that are no longer relevant, sensible or likely. Do I see him at McLaren next year? Actually I don’t, but where would he go? Red Bull? No. Back to Ferrari? Not if Vettel stays. Mercedes? There’s no chance at the moment. That only leaves Renault. He could quit F1 and go and drive in sports cars, but honestly I don’t see that either. Whichever way you cut it, the situation isn’t good for him at the moment, but he has to apportion blame for his plight on himself and his management for the hole he fnds himself in.