Saturday, April 22, 2017

Fernando Alonso: Excellence Misused.

Time for the radical truth and truths of the situation at McLaren....also a few truths about the "spectacle," of an F1 driver coming to drive at Indianapolis. 

It's come to my attention, and I suspect a few others in the F1 fan-club, that Team McLaren, well they're doing as well as they have since 2015, appallingly. So their solution? Send Fernando Alonso some 3,000 miles from the Monaco Grand Prix, to Indiana, at Indianapolis, to the world renowned Indy 500. Now there is one justification for this, surprisingly, Honda does much better in the V6 Turbocharged power-fest that is Indy-Car, which is odd because presumably if Honda is so good at making a regular 2.2 liter V6 Turbo, why are they so bad at making a 1.6 liter turbo with extra juice from an electric motor? I am not going to say the two are exactly the same, the budgets alone can show you Indy-Car is different than Formula 1, it still leaves that question on power though.

Now here are some of the reasons why Fernando Alonso, who is a World Champion driver make no mistake, is not the Big Three from the almost mythical 1966 Indy 500. For one, McLaren isn't lending Indy their No. 1 driver because he's bored or up for a new challenge, the team is in serious trouble, both points and position wise and Monaco won't probably help that, short of a miracle. Another point is, unlike 1965/66 and other years, McLaren isn't showing up with radical new technology and their drivers to literally annihilate the Yankees concept of open wheeled motorsports. In 1965 Jim Clark came over here, with a fellow named Colin Chapman and his team called Lotus, and they had a interesting car called the Lotus 38, it had a rear mounted V8 engine which was made by a company called Ford. The rest as they say, was not only history, it was fact. The front engine open wheel race car was dead in America now and in 1966, the Brits had the affront to do it again! This time a few other Brits joined in, one was Graham Hill, who won the race, another was a young Jackie Stewart, who was voted Rookie of the Race!

They all drove rear-engined Ford V8 motored vehicles, but another point is they all three were or would become World Champion drivers, Clark and Hill had already won championships, Jackie would win his first in 1969 and win two more. Clark and Hill came from a Championship winning team Lotus was one of the best teams in Formula 1, and in the 1960s, they were the team to drive for, Jackie was a rookie at the time, he had only been in F1 for a year and a half at the time of the Indy, but he came third in the championship in 1965, and in 1966, 8 days before the Indy, he won the coveted Monaco Grand Prix.

Which does bring up yet another point, these drivers didn't actually miss the Monaco Grand Prix. Jackie won it and also had been at Indy before that race and after along with his compatriots. This situation we have in 2017, is one of the McLaren team basically giving up on a Grand Prix because the car is not good enough and it certainly is passing it's number 1 driver to Andretti Autosport, which is powered by the Honda Indy engine instead of the almost sad Honda F1 engine. As for how Fernando will do, that is not the question here, there are enough differences between this scenario and the F1 drivers coming over in the 60s as stated above, to make the other points an actual issue.

While admittedly, Ford itself would not come to dominate Formula 1 until 1967/68, and then with a different engine from the one used at the 1966 Indy 500, the immortal DFV by Cosworth. It was abundantly clear which motorsport was ahead in many terms due to the British Invasion of American Motorsports at that time. This invasion not only brought the concept of engines behind the driver, but the drivers themselves, who were in a class of their own when they did take the lead. Now, in 2017, not per-se with other teams, like Mercedes or Ferrari, but in McLaren-Honda, you have a team that could be taught a thing or two by the less glamorous and less watched IndyCar Series teams and their Honda and Chevrolet Engines.

Now finally, the concept of sending F1 Drivers here to Indy to do a good turn, Fernando isn't the first, and likely he won't be the last. There are also a few notables who made a full time career of CART and USAC and IndyCar itself, my personal favorites include, Mario Andretti, Emerson Fittipaldi, Juan Pablo Montoya, and for 2 years in his racing career, Nigel Mansell. So let us not sit in too much awe when an F1 driver crosses the pond for a race not of the Formula 1 variety. Perhaps Fernando will win, I figure it will be the bright spot in a three (15, 16 and 17) year stint that has not gone very well and is not going very well. I myself, am rooting for Scott Dixon, being a consistent winner in IndyCar and also a driver for Ford at LeMans 24 Hours race, but I hope that Fernando does well in Indy too, he more than deserves the win if he is as masterful a driver at Indy as he was with Renault and Ferrari.

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