The Indianapolis 500 has really really not been kind to Fernando Alonso. In 2017 he ran a fast but fragile Honda powerplant which blew up on him after leading the race. In 2019 his McLaren-entered car was a proper clusterfuck and didn’t even make the big show, bumped out in qualifying. The former Formula One ace, Le Mans and Daytona 24 champion (and Dakar 13th place finisher) is still looking to add an Indy win to his quiver.
It didn’t look good for Alonso to join the grid in 2020 as Honda has already vetoed any teams looking to add him to their roster, which leaves only a Chevrolet team, and most of them already had their dance cards full. It’s a good thing he applied to a safety school, because his former McLaren team is going all-in on Indy this year with a full-season two-car effort, joining forces with Schmidt-Peterson.
The recently formed Arrow McLaren SP team will add a third car for Alonso to drive at the 500, and hopefully qualify this time.
“We beat ourselves,” McLaren CEO Zak Brown said Tuesday. “We have unfinished business with Fernando.”
The good news is that all four of Schmidt-Peterson’s cars made it into the 500 last year. The bad news is that James Hinchcliffe gave the team its best finish of 11th in 2019, and he’s been dropped from the team for the 2020 season in favor of a pair of young guns, Patricio O’Ward and Oliver Askew. Also, the team has left Honda power (which it has used since 2006) in favor of a deal with Chevrolet.
Schmidt-Peterson’s best ever finish at the Indy 500 was a 3rd place finish with Simon Pagenaud in 2012. Hopefully this partnership with McLaren means the team will have all of the money and resources it needs to give Alonso the car he needs to produce results. Can it all come together for May? I look forward to watching it play out.