It’s not long now until the talking stops and we get to find out how well Fernando Alonso performs on his Indianapolis 500 debut. The move has generated a lot of talk.
The initial talk was, and still is to a certain extent, whether it was a good idea for Alonso to forsake competing at the Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix. But more of the talk has also shifted to how well Alonso will do on his debut, with the opinion seeming to be around he might pull off the victory or otherwise end up retiring at some point during the race.
Since the introduction of the DW12 Dallara chassis in 2012, rookies at the Indianapolis 500 have had mixed fortunes but there have been several good performances. These good performances include Rubens Barrichello’s 11th place finish in 2012, Carlos Munoz’s 2nd and A. J. Allmendinger’s 7th place finish in 2013, Kurt Busch’s 6th place finish and Sage Karam’s 9th place finish in 2014 and of course Alexander Rossi’s victory last year. So it could be said any finish inside the top ten would be phenomenal and a finish inside the top twenty is a good performance for a rookie, especially one without prior racing experience in the IndyCar series or on superspeedways. As is the case with Fernando Alonso.
For those still not sure whether it was a good idea for Alonso to swap racing at Monaco for the Indianapolis 500, the sheer amount of discussion and debate that has been generated, both positive and negative, has shown that the decision to compete has been a good one. It has helped promote both Formula 1 and the IndyCar series, to put it briefly. It is also worth mentioning the number of additional viewers the race will have, if you take into consideration the reported two million who watched the live video of Alonso’s rookie test.
It’s also worth noting that part of some of the Formula 1 community’s opposition to the move can be put down to the culture within Formula 1 of racing drivers being required and expected to be fully committed to the sport and not compete in other series. This is due in part to drivers potentially picking up injuries and potentially suffering fatal crashes whilst competing in other series, think Robert Kubica’s rally crash in 2011 or Stefan Bellof’s crash during an endurance race in 1985 whilst contracted to Tyrrell, to mention just two. Not forgetting the trouble and difficulty it can be to find an adequate replacement driver, although in McLaren’s case they had Jenson Button already signed to the team for 2017.
Fernando Alonso’s Indianapolis 500 debut has generated and will continue to generate a lot of talk and discussion, which is great. But the most pleasing thing for me is that there is a driver who isn’t just concerned about being a multiple world champion in a particular motorsport, but has the desire to try and be successful in a variety of racing series. Which is something Alonso should be commended for and why the 101st running of the Indianapolis 500 is well worth tuning in for.
The MotoGP and World Superbike series have already begun their 2017 pre-season, edging them that little closer to the start of their 2017 season’s. They have been joined this month by IndyCar who went testing at the Phoenix International Raceway.
But the main focus of this post will be Formula 1 which will see teams launch their 2017 challengers and go testing in late February. With a lot of change having taken place on and off the track, the 2017 pre-season will be a fascinating time for Formula 1, for a few reasons.
Look of the cars
The first thing is obviously the new technical regulations which are in part meant to make the cars look more appealing to the eye. After much debate and speculative technical drawings we will finally see the 2017 cars for ourselves. It will therefore be interesting to see whether teams come up with very different designs or whether they will generally look very similar.
There have been several reports stating that some teams will be changing their racing livery for the upcoming season. This includes Scuderia Ferrari returning to an all red livery (having incorporated white in their livery last season and elements of black in previous seasons), and McLaren hinting at incorporating orange into their livery for 2017.
There could also be a livery change at Sauber after Felipe Nasr was not retained by the team and therefore potentially no Banco do Brasil blue and yellow livery for the Swiss team as well as a change of livery for Scuderia Toro Rosso.
Although perhaps not in the first test and we won’t truly know until the Australian Grand Prix, but pre-season testing will enable everyone who follows Formula 1 to get their first impressions of how fast the new cars will really be. This after plenty of debating as to whether the new cars will be three seconds faster than last year, or whether they could be five seconds faster.
With the increased speed of the cars in mind, it will be interesting to see what the drivers views are about the new cars and whether they find them more physically demanding to drive, as some hope.
As always, there is plenty of motorsport in action this coming weekend. Some of the series competing are previewed below.
MotoGP and its feeder categories are in the Netherlands this weekend for the TT Assen.
It will be new territory for Assen as it will host the race on the Sunday. It has, until recently, been traditional for the race to be held on a Saturday.
Going into the event, Spaniard Marc Marquez heads the Rider Standings, ten points ahead of Jorge Lorenzo and a further twelve ahead of Valentino Rossi who currently lies third in the standings.
The last round in Catalunya saw Rossi take victory ahead of the two Honda’s of Marquez and Dani Pedrosa. Lorenzo did not finish after being taken out of the race by Andrea Iannone’s Ducati.
This weekend sees IndyCar go to Road America for the Kohler Grand Prix which makes its return having not been on the IndyCar or CART/Champ car calendar since 2007, which saw current IndyCar driver, Sebastien Bourdais claim victory.
Going into the race Simon Pagenaud leads Scott Dixon and Helio Castroneves in the Driver Standings.
The last round, the Firestone 600, was postponed due to poor weather. So many will be eager to go racing this weekend.
There are plenty of other racing series in action this weekend but a few to note include DTM and FIA European Formula Three which are both racing in Germany at the Norisring. Meanwhile the World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) is competing in Portugal, Formula V8 3.5 are in France at the Paul Ricard Circuit, and finally, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series returns to action after a week off, where they will compete at Sonoma Raceway.