No, It’s Not a Surprise at All: Alonso @ Indy 500

Not a good look for the two time Formula 1 world champion

It wasn’t long ago when Fernando Alonso was leading the pack at the Brickyard. And it was no surprise when the Honda engine powering his Andretti-tuned Dallara blew up and relegated the Spaniard to a DNF at the Indy 500.

There was much anticipation for this year’s running of the race, with McLaren supposedly utilizing this opportunity to gauge a full time entry into the US-based open wheel series in addition to continuing their association with the two-time F1 champion.

But as with most things McLaren as of late, Alonso suffered a series of mishaps which prevented him from having another shot at the Borg Warner trophy. Think Robin Miller’s article on Racer.com summed up – politely – what happened. Lack of experience, humility and time. Yep.

(By the way, please support Racer.com – it’s run by some dear long-time friends in the business – Paul and Bill – both of whom are lifelong gear heads truly true to the game)

Here’s what we think Fernando should do to improve his chances of winning motorsport’s “triple crown”:

  1. End the silly association / relationship with McLaren – since the ousting of Ron Dennis, the Woking operation has been, basically, a shit show. Zak Brown has no idea what he’s doing. And what the hell is the purpose of Gil de Ferran collecting a paycheck as “sporting director”? Why let Mc:Laren’s indecision and lack of commitment prevent you from Indy success?
  2. Race Indycar full time – Alonso is arguably one of the best drivers of his generation, but even he needs some time to acclimate to a new car, new form of racing, etc. He’s already a champion in F1 and WEC. Nothing left to prove in those series.
  3. Win the Indy 500 and the Indycar championship while you’re at it – it’s hard to fathom Alonso NOT doing well in Indycar. And surely, it’s going to be great for ratings – bringing his GLOBAL fanbase to Indycar – and i’m sure he can bring heaps of sponsorship dollars with him. So why not someone like Roger Penske sign him to a full ride?
  4. Then go win Dakar. Why not add yet another memento to what must be a HUGE trophy case at the Museo Y Circuito Fernando Alonso?

KV Racing + Takuma Sato + Lotus + Indycar = A Serious Case of An Identity Crisis

In the upper reaches of motorsports, teams are pretty clear about who they are. Heck, even HRT (Hispania Racing Team, formerly Campos) in F1 is never misunderstood beyond what they are – a newcomer struggling to catch up to everyone and anyone as they had absolutely no pre-season testing. But when a team makes a blatant move to confuse the hell out of everyone, I feel like it’s worth speaking about.

I attended the qualifying session for the IndyCar Long Beach Grand Prix earlier today. A festive event for sure with a decent turnaround for a non-race day. Then I saw it whizz by while standing around in the pits. Takuma Sato in the KV Racing… umm… Lotus… powered by Honda. What the heck is going on? The livery sure looked like that you would find in the Lotus F1 car, but this isn’t Formula 1 for starters.

So how does this association make any sense whatsoever? Let’s trace things back a bit…

Takuma Sato was basically a Honda boy from day 1. He went to a driving school sponsored by Honda. His debut was in the former BAR-Honda F1 squad. Then he was relegated to the Super Aguri F1 team (still powered by a Honda). All in all, it makes all the sense that he would find a seat in a spec series powered by a Honda engine. Fine. But what does Lotus have to do with it all? It’s now a Malaysian-owned car company (parent company = Proton) which uses Toyota engines in their road cars such as the Elise, Exige and Evora. KV Racing is owned by an Aussie and an American who is a former CART champion. They’re racing on American soil but the title sponsor is a Japanese car company (Toyota). How does this make any sense whatsoever when Lotus has NOTHING to do with the driver, the racing series, the chassis (Dallara), the team nor the engine manufacturer.

To summarize, a Japanese driver “brought up” by a Japanese car manufacturer who was kicked out of a primarily European racing series racing in an American series for a team owned by an Aussie and an American running an Italian chassis powered by a Japanese engine at a race title sponsored by a competing Japanese manufacturer wearing the colors and brand of a Malaysian auto maker that has absolutely nothing to do with them. Phew. What a mouthful.

Seriously, who / what the hell are you KV Racing / Takuma Sato?

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Detours of the Week – December 11th 2009

Daniel Lewis

From BBC – The Silverstone Circuit has signed a 17-year deal (17 years??!! – Ed.) with Formula One to host the British Grand Prix. Silverstone was the host of the first Grand Prix championship in 1950, and since 1987, hosted every British Grand Prix in Formula One. Donington Park was supposed to be the new venue for the British Grand Prix this year beginning next year, but their finances fell through the floor.

Danica Patrick

From LA Times – OMG! Danica Patrick is in NASCAR. On Tuesday, Danica Patrick announced that she would drive in a “limited number” of races in NASCAR’s Nationwide Series. Danica’s IndyCar resume consists of 1 win, 3 poles, and 81 starts. Her first season was in 2005, and she finished 5th (best career finish) in 2009. Not bad for a 27 year old, but in my personal opinion, it’s better to be great at one thing, than so-so in many things.

VW vs Toyota

From Reuters – Volkswagen is buying a 20% stake in Suzuki for $2.5 billion. This is not too long after Volkswagen just bought a 49.9% stake in Porsche AG. After this transaction, VW will have stake in 11 different car brands. VW’s goal is to become the world’s number one automaker by 2018. Toyota, we await for your rebuttal.

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