Fernando Alonso is expected to test a Honda-powered Andretti Autosport Dallara DW12 early next month to gauge his interest in the 2018 IndyCar package on a road course.
RACER has learned via multiple sources that a number of road course test dates have been held for Alonso this year, and despite going unused, an outing in the days following the September 2 Portland Grand Prix is likely to go forward with the two-time Formula 1 world champion.
Barber Motorsports Park has been suggested as the venue for Alonso’s outing, which would conform to recent guidelines IndyCar has established for Alonso to test somewhere other than the remaining tracks left on the championship calendar in an effort to prevent any data he might provide from being used to the team’s benefit as Andretti’s Alexander Rossi vies for the title.
Alonso’s first introduction to the Verizon IndyCar Series came in 2017 at the Leeds, Alabama circuit, when he took part in a press conference and spoke with NBCSN’s Townsend Bell ahead of his Indy 500 debut with the Andretti-McLaren-Honda team.
The Spaniard was instantly competitive in the No. 29 Honda at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and with this week’s news of his upcoming retirement from Formula 1, sampling an IndyCar for the first time on a road course with the new-for-2018 low-downforce universal aero kit would appear to be the final step in determining whether IndyCar will become his new home.
As RACER has written more than once since the Mid-Ohio IndyCar round, Andretti Autosport and Harding Racing have been exploring a union that would allow Andretti to expand its four-car program to accommodate everything from an ‘Andretti Junior Team’ to field up-and-coming drivers, to housing an Andretti-McLaren effort in a dedicated facility of its own.
Mounting rumors this week have positioned the Wink Hartman-owned Harding Racing shop that stands within view of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as becoming the Andretti-McLaren base of operations in North America.
Another key factor that continues to surface is the unlikely scenario of an Andretti-McLaren effort being powered by Honda. Despite the upcoming test for Alonso in an Andretti-Honda DW12, using Chevrolet power on a full-time basis, from a separate shop, is said to be the workaround that would allow Andretti Autosport to maintain peace with Honda while starting a new venture with McLaren and Chevy.