At this point, it would be surprising if two-time Formula 1 champion Fernando Alonso did not leave Formula 1 to join IndyCar full-time.
Several weeks ago, it was revealed that 36-year-old Fernando Alonso would likely not return to McLaren for the 2019 Formula 1 season. In fact, his likely replacement was revealed as 18-year-old Lando Norris at that time.
There was already speculation that Alonso, who drove in the 2017 Indianapolis 500, would return to the Indy 500 next year after missing it earlier this year. There was even speculation that he would come to IndyCar as a full-time driver for the first time in his racing career next year.
This speculation started heating up after the above announcements were made and Alonso’s Formula 1 career beyond the end of the season was suggested to be in doubt.
At this point, it would be shocking if Alonso did not end up leaving Formula 1 for IndyCar next season. McLaren partnered with Andretti Autosport to field Alonso in the #29 Honda in the 2017 Indy 500, and they have already met with IndyCar teams in regard to fielding a full-time entry in the series next year.
Michael Andretti, the Andretti Autosport team owner, was even spotted with Alonso at the Canadian Grand Prix this past weekend. Andretti even skipped the IndyCar race at Texas Motor Speedway to go to the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve to meet with Alonso.
It is widely believed that Andretti Autosport are the team that McLaren would likely partner with to field a full-time entry in IndyCar next season, and there is basically no doubt that if they do field a full-time entry in IndyCar next season, Alonso will be their driver.
A key reason why Alonso drove in the Indy 500 last year is because of the mounting frustration that he was experiencing as a result of McLaren’s unreliable Honda engines in Formula 1. That frustration had been bottling up since he returned to the team in the 2015 season. He skipped the Monaco Grand Prix, the crown jewel of the Formula 1 schedule, to drive in his first IndyCar race and his first oval race.
McLaren were able to retain Alonso for the 2018 Formula 1 season as a result of the fact that they replaced their Honda engines with Renault engines. After scoring 17 points last season, Alonso nearly doubled that with 32 points in the first five races of the 2018 season.
Alonso recorded a fifth place finish, which tied his best finish in the previous three seasons driving a Honda-powered car for McLaren, three seventh place finishes and an eighth place finish in those five races. He has since been forced to retire with mechanical issues in two consecutive races.
But Alonso is a two-time Formula 1 champion. His Formula 1 win total of 32 ranks sixth on the all-time wins list despite the fact that he has not won a race in over five years. He does not simply want to finish races. He does not simply want to score points. He does not simply want to finish in the top five. He wants to win.
Alonso qualified in fifth place for his first career IndyCar race and his first career oval race in last year’s Indy 500, and he led 27 laps of the race before his engine ultimately failed with 21 laps to go in the 200-lap race and he finished in 24th.
There is no doubt that Alonso can compete on a high level, and there is no doubt that he would be a contender to win championships in IndyCar. It would be surprising if he did not end up there full-time next year.
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