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.
McLaren rookie Lando Norris was fastest on the first day of the second Formula 1 pre-season test at the Circuit de Barcelona, despite finding reliability issues.
Equipped with the C5 tyres – the softest compound in Pirelli’s range – Norris posted a 1m17.709s time to edge Red Bull’s Pierre Gasly off of top spot.
Soon after vaulting to the top of the times, Norris stopped on track for the second time in the day. The first was caused by a hydraulic problem on the MCL34 before lunch.
Both Ferrari and Mercedes’ mileage was hampered, as the Scuderia completed cooling checks in the morning, while Valtteri Bottas stopped on track with an oil pressure problem after just one lap at the start of the afternoon session.
Here is a full round up of how all 10 teams fared on the first day of the second test.
At 19 years and 124 days old Lando Norris will become the third-youngest driver in history to start a Formula 1 race, when he makes his McLaren debut at the 2019 Australian Grand Prix.
However, as Max Verstappen has recently proven, age is but a number. The motorsport proverb, ‘if you’re good enough, you’re old enough’ has never been truer. Despite his tender years, Norris is exactly the kind of driver McLaren needs right now.
Filling Fernando Alonso’s shoes is no mean feat and a challenge that now poetically falls upon Carlos Sainz Jr, who has made no secret of the fact that he was an Alonso fan growing up.
The baton has been transferred from one Spaniard to another and the hopes of a nation along with it, at a McLaren team currently in strife and with a long road to recovery ahead. Does Sainz have what it takes to live up to that challenge?