Fernando Alonso’s next career move remains the subject of heightened anticipation and speculation. That includes bookmakers in the motor sports market.
The 37-year-old, two-time Formula 1 champion could dabble in the World Endurance Championship, move with his McLaren team to the IndyCar series full-time, or simply attempt another one-off bid in the Indianapolis 500 after starting fifth and leading 27 laps before being relegated to 24th because of a mechanical failure late in his first attempt last May.
Paddy Power believes his Alonso’s retirement from F1 will include America’s greatest motorsports event in some way, offering odds over whether he will win in 2019 or by 2030. You can bet at 10-1 on Paddy Power that Alonso will win next season, and 11/8 by 2030.
Alonso would become the oldest winner of America’s most prestigious motor race if he waited until the final year of the wager, surpassing Al Unser Sr., who won at age 47 in 1987.
And after helping Toyota Gazoo Racing win in the LMP1 category in the 24 Hours of Le Mans this summer, he is in position to join Graham Hill as the only drivers to win in F1 at Monaco, LeMans and the Indianapolis 500.
With the European press as skeptical as the IndyCar community is giddy over the prospects about a full-time move, Alonso’s due diligence continued on Wednesday, Sept. 5, with a test of an Andretti Autosport Honda on the Barber Motorsports Park road course in Alabama. Alonso was at least entertained, if not intrigued.
“It was a good day, a fun day. I love to test new cars and to test the INDYCAR on a road course is something special,” Alonso said after working through damp conditions on the 2.3-mile course outside Birmingham.
“I’ve been lucky enough to test it in wet conditions, in intermediate conditions and in dry conditions, so overall I had a good feeling on every type of track. The weather was good for us today, a little bit of wind in the afternoon but overall a positive day.”
Alonso’s entire career, except for his preparations for and run in the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, have been contested on road and street courses, but the 32-time F1-winner said he has developed an affinity for oval racing.
The 17-race 2019 IndyCar series schedule will include five races on oval tracks of various size.
“Probably my instinct will tell me road course,” he said when asked to assess his favourite type of venue, “because it’s what I’ve been used to doing all my life, but the Indy 500 was an amazing experience, so 50/50.
”I think I love the way the car feels on a road course, but I love the way you compete on ovals, timing the tows, traffic and all the overtaking maneuvers, I think are a little bit easy on the ovals, so in terms of track action I loved the Indy 500.”
Multiple logistical hurdles remain, prominent among them McLaren finding a current IndyCar partner – Alonso ran the Indianapolis 500 in an extra Andretti car – and mitigating its relationship with Honda or finding a Chevrolet companion team.
McLaren and Honda ended a mutually unsuccessful relationship – three winless seasons - after the 2017 F1 campaign.