The best thing about McLaren’s Formula One team right now is that they want to let their drivers drive in other series. We had to ask McLaren Technology Group Executive Director and real-life American in F1 Zak Brown if Fernando Alonso might drive at the 24 Hours of Daytona. “Stay tuned,” he told us.
Alonso’s ambition to win the Triple Crown of Motorsport—the F1 Monaco Grand Prix, Indianapolis 500 and 24 Hours of Le Mans—are well known by now. Of course, the first major endurance race of the year is the WeatherTech Sports Car Championship’s 24 Hours of Daytona, which would be a worthy warm-up to a Le Mans run.
Brown also owns the United Autosports team, who will do the 24 Hours of Daytona in an LMP2-spec prototype. Alonso is “80 percent likely” to be driving for that team, according to one source who spoke with Sportscar365. Brown himself told Reuters that he’d gladly put Alonso on the team for Daytona:
If Fernando wants to do Daytona and we have a seat available, we would put his name on it happily.
We’ve started joking around about it, and we saw where jokes got us last time
Brown certainly didn’t deny the rumors tying Alonso to that team today, either, telling Jalopnik that “it would be a lot of fun” with a big, almost guilty grin on his face.
And man, do we all want it to happen. Brown told a group of reporters this afternoon that tie-ins between F1 and other sports are key to growing F1 in America, and pointed to similar disciplines like IndyCar and sports car racing as low-hanging fruit for F1 to do more with. Brown believes that reigning IndyCar champion Josef Newgarden, for example, would do awesome in Formula One, although it would be better for such cross-series drivers to try out an F1 drive if F1 allowed teams to have more testing time.
The next big race we could see a big cross-series F1 crossover happen is still the 24 Hours of Daytona. Brown told Jalopnik that now that Alonso’s contract extension with McLaren is settled, these conversations about other races are coming up fast.
Right now, we just got our deal done in Formula One and he’s obviously made it well-known that he wants to do Le Mans, he’d like to go back to Indianapolis, he has an interest in Daytona. We’d like to go racing with him, so if we can work it out, it would be great, but we don’t have anything done yet.
But we’re going to pick up those conversations next week. He might go have a test in the car to see what he thinks of it, so stay tuned.
That sounds like a real plan.
Alonso seems happy to spend more time in America as well, even donning boots and a helmet this weekend that pay tribute to his Indianapolis 500 run earlier this year. He should come to Florida in January. It’s nice, you know.