McLaren’s IndyCar team say that Fernando Alonso is an option for a third car at next year’s Indy 500, should the team field an extra car.
Arrow McLaren yesterday announced their driver line-up for the 2020 season, with former Red Bull junior Patricio O’Ward teaming up with Oliver Askew for an all-new line-up of the most recent Indy Lights Champions.
The move was met with some consternation, as it meant contracted driver James Hinchcliffe is without a drive after four seasons with the former Schmidt Peterson outfit – a decision team boss Sam Schmidt described as ‘gut-wrenching’.
Now in partnership with McLaren as the UK racing giant returns to IndyCar in a full-time capacity, the possibility of running a third car at next year’s Indy 500 was raised and Schmidt confirmed that the intention and expectation is still to do so in 2020.
“In the deal [with McLaren] came all the McLaren equipment, which means we have plenty of equipment and we have historically always ran a third just because of our commercial partner demand and we expect to do that again this year.”
Fernando Alonso remains an employee of McLaren, as well as a global brand ambassador. While he has an unconfirmed racing roster for 2020, he’s already said he has no interest in a full-time IndyCar seat. Last week, it was confirmed he will take part in the Dakar 2020 with Toyota Gazoo Racing. Having taken part in the 2017 Indy 500 and being one of the contenders for victory until his Honda engine failed in the closing stages, he returned in 2019, but McLaren failed to qualify with their sole car entry.
2020 is an altogether different ballgame, and Schmidt confirmed that Alonso is an option for them if they field a third car: “I’ll say it certainly remains an option, but nothing’s been confirmed.”
Alonso has already stated he intends to try Indy again, and has also opened the door for a possible return to F1 from 2021, depending on the regulation changes announced on Thursday.