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?

Ron Dennis: Comprehensive Interview

A few weeks ago, I wrote about how important tobacco money has been to F1 and the lack of it is making the pinnacle of motorsport a bit laughable at times.

Well, I happened upon this comprehensive interview with Ron Dennis, the man who made what McLaren was – until the consortium led by Mansur Ojjeh booted him. It’s a thoroughly pleasurable viewing experience, going way back to the days of the Brabham team, and onto the days of Senna, Mikka and more. It’s also very interesting that Phillip Morris was the primary source of funding to grow the team into what it ultimately became – multiple constructor and driver champion.

Huge props to the American Academy of Achievement for the interview that we share above. Also check out their YouTube channel for more scintillating interviews with other overachievers.

Hot Import Nights: Los Angeles (March 30, 2019)

In what I can describe as a flashback moment, Chris and i decided to visit the first Hot Import Nights of the year. Not to date myself, but I was at the original HIN way back in the day, shot many iterations of this show – HIN, Hot Import Daze, Import Revolution – and so on. Glad to see that there are still some souls passionate about upgrading their car game from the very basic bolt-ons to full engine swaps.

Chris shot some video but you’ll have to wait a bit for that. In the meantime, enjoy the photos below!

F1 Steering Wheels: We Have It Way Easy

Maybe I am getting old. I don’t like all these damn buttons on steering wheels these days. On my Lexus, there are so many buttons that do all sorts of things it seems – voice command (which, by the way, is the worst system ever made… and not just based on my opinion), lane departure warning, “back’ button, volume control, media “mode” and on and on. In my Evo IX, there’s one horn button. Nothing else. Not even a cruise control button because, well, it doesn’t have cruise control.

While I long for days of simplicity in passenger cars, motorsports continues to innovate and revolutionize. Nearly every aspect of performance can be tweaked from the steering wheel, even engine maps – is this why I have an “economy” mode, a “normal” mode, “Sport” mode and a “Sport+” mode for my car? Compared to the typical steering wheel on an F1 race car, however, we have it easy. Way easy.

The Steering Wheel, as Explained by Valtteri Bottas

Donut Media did a fantastic job of visualizing the evolution of the F1 steering wheel in this video for those who are completely green to current racing technology.

A Review – Formula 1: Drive to Survive (Without Ferrari or Mercedes) on Netflix

  • Ferrari and Mercedes did a huge dis-service to the sport by not actively participating – perhaps they think they’re “too good” to take part. Who the hell knows. Sure, they are constantly battling for the driver’s and constructor’s titles and that probably keeps them a little busy. BUT, they have plenty of time to produce and post a bunch of videos on YouTube. So much of the 2018 season is overlooked due to this lack of participation. We merely get flashes of those teams during the documentary, which is awkward or done during press conferences. Bleh.
  • I’ve been following F1 for the past few years and it definitely feels like we’re in the golden age of media coverage. Liberty green-lit all Formula 1 access to go digital and, thankfully we have now come out of the old “get off my lawn” mentality of the archaic legacy Formula 1 ownership. For those who’ve been following F1 a tad longer than I have, here’s a little nugget from 1980 – coverage of the Monaco Grand Prix on ABC’s Wide World of Sports. (that’s right… ONE measly race covered in America… how did you live???!!!)
  • The series is best summarized by Ricciardo in the premiere episode – “My name is Daniel Ricciardo and I’m a car mechanic.” Light-hearted (?), without much meaning and distracted.
  • I am still wondering why Grosjean still has an F1 seat. He doesn’t bring dollars to Haas with any major personal sponsors. And his race performance has been lackluster. Perhaps he knows where all the bodies are buried.
  • Want to see more drama / behind-the-scenes storylines around:
    • Red Bull’s displeasure with Renault engines (or vice versa?)
    • Verstappen vs. Ocon

What are YOUR thoughts? Share your comments below.