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Alonso: Indy move wouldn't have happened under Dennis

NEWS STORY
13/04/2017

One of the first things that went through editor Balfe's mind yesterday, following the news that Fernando Alonso is to miss the forthcoming Monaco Grand Prix in order to drive a McLaren-branded Dallara-Honda in the Indy 500 was that such a move would not have been possible were Ron Dennis still in charge at Woking.

Apart from anything else, Dennis regarded the Monaco event as the most important on the calendar, not so much for the history or its iconic status but because it is the place where major deals are done, the most important event on the calendar. Therefore, the idea of his star driver missing the event, not being present to meet and greet potential sponsors and partners, would have been unthinkable.

Speaking at today's press conference, the Spaniard clearly agreed.

Asked if the move would have been possible were Dennis still in charge, Alonso said: "I guess not.

"Zak (Brown) is a man that has a bigger vision than other team principals or bosses that I had," he continued, referring to the the team's Executive Director who was the driving force behind the move. "He sees motorsport differently, he sees McLaren bigger and no longer concentrated on F1. He is a true racer, so it is great that McLaren had Zak come on board last year."

Asked if the move would have happened had the MCL32 been more competitive, he said: "If the car was competitive this year, and we had 43 points together with the other guys, you cannot afford to lose a 25 points possibility missing one race. Things would be different if we were competitive.

Breaking out into another discipline was always on the cards the Spaniard admitted, though team boss Eric Boullier was pushing for the Spaniard to contest Le Mans.

"Definitely, it was something on the table this year," he said. "Because Zak is American he was pushing for the Indy 500, and because Eric is French he was pushing for Le Mans. I think the McLaren-Honda partnership, to be able run this in Indy 500, was very attractive this year, so for Le Mans it is something I will do, probably as soon as I can. I don't know if it will be next year or following years.

"The first priority is F1," he insisted. "If I can race together with F1 and other series as I am doing this year it will be okay, if not I will only do F1."

Fact is, despite all the talk of winners and losers, this is smoke and mirrors. So hopeless is the McLaren-Honda partnership, after three years of trying, that someone believes an iconic F1 star driving a McLaren-branded Dallara with a (race winning) Honda engine at Indianapolis will take attention away from the woeful situation the F1 team finds itself in.

Whatever the whys and wherefores, Brown was employed by McLaren to run McLaren's F1 team. His brief was to sort out the team on track as well as off, which meant getting Honda to raise its game and also find a title sponsor for 2018. Quite how Alonso running in the Indy 500 will achieve either remains to be seen.

Finally, let's not forget that while Brown might have a "bigger vision" he has no money invested in McLaren, he is an employee, for Ron Dennis it was entirely different.

If Dennis wanted Alonso in Monaco it was for the good of the team for nothing else mattered, not Indianapolis, not IndyCar not even Fernando Alonso.

And that's without thinking the unthinkable, what if the Spaniard is injured.

Check out our Thursday gallery from Shanghai, here.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by RY, 14/04/2017 11:36

"Will the Indy people just accept a 'rookie' like Alonso. Great driver thar he is will he not have to do some sort of rookie tests etc? I recall Jim Clark having to complete something of this sort.h"

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2. Posted by Bill Hopgood, 13/04/2017 20:22

"I agree that the Indy drive is a distraction and as a McLaren fan, I also realise that it isn't really McLaren entering in a pure sense as it would be a McLaren designed and built machine in the race, not a Dallara.

That said, considering where McLaren is now, it will be interesting to see how Alonso goes as Indy is a tricky place for some great drivers in the past not to have got the hang of. Amon springs to mind in that regard.

So long as Alonso isn't hurt, then I can't see it being a major problem.

Something that Liberty should pay attention to is that if F1 is so great, why would one of the top draw cards decide to miss the jewel in the crown race, team going well or not?

I hope there won't be a rule made preventing drivers missing F1 races in future."

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3. Posted by Warpdriv, 13/04/2017 18:49

"well, clearly Alonso will be the most experienced 'Rookie' at Indy this year, and with a top team of support.
It will add extra interest to that race for me.

Good luck to him, and the entire organization with him."

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4. Posted by Ro, 13/04/2017 16:24

"I truly hope 2 things happen:
1: He wins it...
2: He finishes the race with no injuries.
He is a racer.
Good luck to him."

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5. Posted by testa rossa, 13/04/2017 16:13

"This reminds me of the name Lotus ...used as decal only.! Pity."

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6. Posted by nonickname, 13/04/2017 14:55

"First we glorify the days when F1 drivers race in all the other categories and wish they were still allowed to do it and then we wail when one decides that to appear at the Indy 500 is more important/fun than racing at an outdated, stupid,unsafe track in a poor car! Alonso at the Indy 500 will do more for F1 in America than just about anything.The crowds over the weeks build-up are bigger than the total at 2 or 3 Fi races .
I give up."

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