Going (kinda) big rather than going home
From the moment that Fernando Alonso and McLaren failed to qualify for the 2019 Indianapolis 500, a full-time McLaren IndyCar entry was somewhat of a guarantee.
When Kyle Kaiser of the under-funded Juncos Racing squad dumped Alonso out of the qualifying 33 on bump day, McLaren had all the evidence it needed that simply rocking up to the Brickyard once a year aspiring to beat IndyCar stalwarts in one of the most competitive arenas on the planet was a pipe-dream.
Commitment was required and has been duly delivered. McLaren has merged with Schmidt Peterson Motorsport to become the Arrow McLaren Racing SP entry for 2020 – a two car entry formed of SPM’s current seats.
Michael Conroy (AP Images)
Haas Formula 1 development driver Santino Ferrucci will make his IndyCar debut this weekend, substituting as part of the driver reshuffle at Dale Coyne Racing for the double-header at Detroit.
His development programme with Haas and current Formula 2 commitments with Trident mean that he remains on a path to F1. However, in an era in which seats at the pinnacle are as hotly contested as ever, getting a foot in the door at an IndyCar team could be hugely valuable.
IndyCar’s 2018 season-opener at St. Petersburg was a modern classic. Unfortunately for rookie Robert Wickens, classics aren’t that easy to forget.
Sebastien Bourdais won a second consecutive race at St Pete. This being the Frenchman’s first win since returning from his 215mph horror crash during Indy 500 qualifying last season, coming at his home venue no less, meant that it was an emotional scene in victory lane.
It would take an extraordinary circumstance to make Bourdais’ story a subplot but the ‘heartbreak’ suffered by Wickens, who was skittled out of the race lead by Alexander Rossi with just two laps to go, was just that.
The exclusivity of the “Triple Crown” means that it is not a prominent talking point in motorsport, despite its significance. Graham Hill remains the only man to have ever held the unofficial title, awarded for a driver taking victory in motorsport’s three most poignant events – the Monaco Grand Prix, Indy 500 and the Le Mans 24 Hours. Modern convention means that even the most talented drivers can only dream of winning the most coveted individual event in three separate series, however, Juan Pablo Montoya is a rare breed of driver. Perhaps this, combined with his remarkable talent, is why he has an opportunity to join the most exclusive of clubs.