INDIANAPOLIS – Fernando Alonso isn’t likely coming to the NTT IndyCar Series on a full time basis for 2020. The window is open and the opportunity is there but all signs point to Alonso not coming.
Zak Brown, CEO of McLaren Racing, confirmed on Friday that while the offer was made to the Spaniard and that the two sides have spoken about it, he doesn’t get the sense that Alonso wants to commit for a full year of racing in the United States. Nothing against the US or Indy Car in general, Alonso just doesn’t want to race on tracks that he’s never raced on in the final stretch of his career. He wants to go out on top, not being a rookie on a full time level in such a competitive series like IndyCar.
While the option is still on the table and the two meeting next month to discuss it again, all signs point to McLaren and Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports eyeing two other drivers for their new joint operation next season.
Who are their top options to team with James Hinchcliffe next year?
I have to lead with him right? He’s the best option but it doesn’t sound like Alonso wants to do any more than the Indy 500 next year. The Spaniard is a former F1 world champion and had spent three seasons in F1 with them. With a majority of the Indy Car schedule being on road/street courses, he’d fit in well.
This is a phenomenal option. Herta, is a young rising star in the series. He’s just 19 years old. He’s also the youngest race winner in Indy Car history. He’s done a lot with a little. While Andretti Autosport would certainly like to have him back in 2020, McLaren and their money can sway him over to them and SPM.
Rumor is McLaren/SPM is courting O’Ward too. See, the Mexican star wanted to remain in IndyCar but his funding from winning the Indy Lights championship last season ran out. Missing the Indy 500 didn’t help. So, while Carlin kept him for a few races, he was forced to search for more funding to stay here in the United States. Meanwhile, O’Ward was a hot commodity for Red Bull Racing and they hired him for their Junior Program. While a seat in F1 is a big goal for O’Ward, money can talk. He’s going to be coveted again if Alonso, Hinchcliffe and Herta or a combo of them don’t work out full season next year.
This is probably next best option for them. First off, his father is an investor in McLaren. Secondly, Latifi is starring in F2 right now. The Canadian has won four times this season alone and sits second in the standings. This is his third year in F2 as he likely wants to move up. The problem is, McLaren is set for their lineup for next season on the F1 side. Carlos Sainz Jr. and Lando Norris are returning. Williams would be his next best opportunity but if George Russell returns, he’d have the second seat at best. Would racing for a backmarker at Williams be best for the 24 year old or would coming to immediately compete up front with McLaren/SPM be better?
The test a few weeks ago shows that something was coming. The former F1 driver could be in a situation like Marcus Ericsson was in. Both race for Sauber and didn’t really get to show their full potential in F1. That left Nasr driving in other series’. Now, he has a leg up on everyone as he already tested for Arrow SPM this season. But, if the others ahead of him sign contracts, Nasr may be on the outside looking in.