McLaren has turned to Andretti Autosport to try and get Fernando Alonso in the Indianapolis 500. RACER has learned that McLaren made a deal to put Andretti’s ultra-strong damper program on Alonso’s car.
The two-time world champion had them on his car Sunday morning for practice but only made a couple hot laps before rain washed out the rest of the session.
Nobody from McLaren or Andretti would confirm RACER’s report but one mechanic said it was true and that “it’s a crapshoot, a shot in the dark, but they McLaren) had to try something.”
NBC cameras caught a team member from Andretti Technologies on the McLaren timing stand during the aborted practice period, which caught the attention of many.
Alonso is one of the six drivers vying for the three remaining spots in the 33-car line-up in the shootout scheduled for later Sunday afternoon. Each driver gets one attempt and Alonso only got up to 220.009 mph before the rains came.
The interesting twist of this story is that Andretti is a Honda team and McLaren is powered by Chevrolet. Because of ill feelings over McLaren’s criticism of Honda in Formula 1, Alonso and McLaren weren’t allowed to team with Michael Andretti’s team, where the F1 star made a sparkling debut in 2017.
But McLaren CEO Zak Brown is good friends with Andretti and they’re partners in an Australia Supercars Championship team, so since it didn’t involve the engines, presumably there is nothing Honda could do to prevent this handout.
The last row shootout is scheduled to begin at 4:30 p.m. ET