First of all, I may need some serious therapy having watched the 2017 Indy 500. I mean, I was/am genuinely heartbroken over ANOTHER Honda engine letting Fernando Alonso down. And this time the stakes were so much higher, he had 20 laps to go and was making his way towards the top of the field. UGH.
Anyway, I can sulk and grieve in my own time. Fernando’s Indy adventure has been a success, he used every ounce of his talent to come so very close to winning, and he impressed a lot of people. His Indy adventure has shown how two motorsport worlds can collide, and how it can be successful.
So can the motorsport world learn from this whole experience? Can the whole motorsport world benefit from this experience?
Well firstly, the Indy 500 gained many extra viewers through Fernando’s participation. Myself included. I had never watched it before, but having seen this year’s event, I wish that I had started watching sooner. I was hooked, and the race went on for over three hours! Allowing a driver and team from another motorsport category to take part has worked wonders. With them, McLaren and Alonso have brought an entirely new fan following. Formula 1 needs to learn that this is a two way deal and that the ‘Triple Crown’ could be made into something so much more. If the Monaco GP received the same hype and publicity as Le Mans and the Indy 500 then motorsport could be on to a real winner. Formula 1 should really try and put Monaco on a pedestal like WEC and Indy do with their respective events. Allow one off drivers to enter the Monaco GP with teams allowed to bring a third car for that weekend only. The same goes for Le Mans. Seats in LMP1 and Formula 1 are so rare that the idea of the ‘Triple Crown’ is only realistic for a handful of drivers. The Monaco GP and the Indy 500 on the same day was great, and was like Christmas for motorsport fans, but it could be even better.
On that note, why hold two of these events on the same weekend? Lets make these three events consecutive. Monaco GP, followed by Indy 500, followed by Le Mans. We could have drivers hunting to achieve the Triple Crown in the space of one season. In turn, each sport receives huge publicity and more audiences. Who is losing here? I know that Liberty Media are striving to make each Formula 1 race weekend into a big event so hopefully they could do something special with the Monaco GP.
2017 has shown that motorsports don’t have to remain within their own little bubbles. Formula 1 is the guiltiest party here. They may be different forms of motorsport, but all these drivers and teams love racing. We are all one family, so lets act like one. Crossing the boundaries of each sport should be normal. It happened much more “back in the old days”. When did we all become so protective?
Perhaps the most important lesson from all of this, if we didn’t realise already, is how much motorsport needs a character and driver like Fernando Alonso. Its not that his credibility was being thrown into doubt at McLaren whilst running around at the back, but perhaps some were beginning to forget how brilliant he is as a racing driver. His Indy qualifying and race day performances certainly did a great job in reminding us all in the Formula 1 world. Over in America he has won over several more fans, as the standing ovation from the crowd on Sunday showed when he jumped out of his smoking McLaren Andretti on lap 180. So kudos to you Fernando, many people questioned your Indy adventure, but you’ve shown them that the love of racing trumps everything else.
(A special congrats must be given to former F1 star Takuma Sato who eventually took the Indy 500 win for the first ever time. Top stuff.)