Andretti: Ferrari’s struggles could force Alonso away

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1978 Formula 1 world champion and American racing legend Mario Andretti believes that Fernando Alonso could walk away from Ferrari if the team does not improve quickly after yet another difficult start to the season in 2014.

Two-time champion Alonso joined Ferrari in 2010 in a move that was supposed to take both driver and team back to their glory days. However, despite finishing as the championship runner-up on three occasions, Alonso has failed to enjoy the same kind of success with the team that he did with Renault. The car that has come out of Maranello since 2008 has rarely been the quickest on the grid, and Andretti believes that this could be enough to force the Spaniard to leave.

“Ferrari cannot be fighting for the final point,” he told gpupdate.net. “It’s not good for Ferrari and it’s not good for Formula 1. They need to be up front. But they know it.

“You can tell that everyone is frustrated, beginning with Luca di Montezemolo. I think the drivers are using every bit of restraint not to express themselves.”

For Andretti, Alonso is in a race against time. At the age of 32, he might be entering the final five years of his career, and a move away from Ferrari may be necessary if he is to add to his pair of championships.

“He’s still at the top of his game and he cannot afford to lose too many seasons,” Andretti said. “So I’m sure if the proper opportunity comes up he’ll consider it.

“When Lewis made the decision to go to Mercedes, lots of people were saying, ‘What the hell is he thinking?’ But look at what has happened. You never know what the next opportunity could be at the very top.”

The speculation surrounding Alonso’s future has been rife since the middle of last summer, when he joked that he wanted a Red Bull car for his birthday. In Singapore last year, Martin Whitmarsh suggested that McLaren would be interested in signing Alonso should be become available, but with a clear succession plan featuring Kevin Magnussen and Stoffel Vandoorne, it is difficult to see a place for him at Woking. Also, there might still be some scars from the dispute in 2007 that saw Alonso leave the team after just a single season.

That said, his enormous ability might be too big a lure for McLaren to refuse. All the while, Alonso remains adamant that he will see out his career with Ferrari, but it remains to be seen whether he stays true to his word in the face of another difficult year.

Michael Andretti looking forward to new Australian Supercars venture

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If it seems like Michael Andretti is out to conquer the world, he is – kind of.

The former IndyCar star turned prolific team owner has won three of the last four Indianapolis 500s and five overall, second only to Roger Penske’s 16 Indy 500 triumphs.

Along the way, in addition to expanding his own IndyCar and Indy Lights operation, the son of Mario Andretti and the primary shareholder of Andretti Autosport has also branched out into Global RallyCross and Formula E racing in recent years.

And now, Andretti has further expanded his brand internationally, following Penske to the world down under — as in the world of Australian V8 Supercars.

Andretti has teamed with Supercars team owner Ryan Walkinshaw, along with veteran motorsports marketer and executive director of McLaren Technology Group and United Autosports owner and chairman, Zak Brown.

Together, the three have formed Walkinshaw Andretti United, based in suburban Melbourne, Australia. The new team kicks off the new season with the Adelaide 500 from March 1-4.

“It’s just extending our brand and putting it out there,” Andretti told NBC Sports. “The Supercars are such a great series.

“It all started with Zach Brown calling me and said ‘You have to talk to Ryan Walkinshaw. He’s got something interesting to talk to you about.’

“We talked and literally in like a half-hour, we said, ‘Let’s figure out how we’re going to make this work.’ And then Zack was like, ‘Hey, what about me?’ And then Zack came in as a partner and it’s cool now that we have the Walkinshaw Andretti United team.

“I’m really excited about that program, the guys at the shop are excited about it, we’ve been doing a lot of things to try and help it because it’s such a cool series and the cars are so cool.

“I went down there to Bathurst, which was to me one of the coolest tracks in the world. I wish I could have driven it, I really do. It looks like a blast.

“It’s amazing how big that series is when you go down there. It’s one of the biggest sports in Australia. It was just a great opportunity for us to extend our portfolio.”

Admittedly, Andretti had some extra incentive to want to get involved in the Supercars world: Penske joined forces with legendary Dick Johnson Racing in September 2014.

The organization came together quickly and the rebranded DJR Team Penske went on to win the 2017 V8 Supercars championship.

“Roger was down there the last few years,” Andretti said, adding that fact as incentive to get his own organization into the series. “So it’s cool to go race head-to-head with Roger. That was also in the back of our minds.”

This is no start-up venture for Andretti. The roots of the new venture began in 1990 as the Holden Racing Team, which went on to become one of the most successful organizations in Australian V8 Supercar racing, having won the drivers’ championship six times and the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship’s top race, the Bathurst 1000 (essentially Australia’s version of the Indy 500), seven times.

Last season, Holden Racing team morphed into Triple Eight Race Engineering and was renamed Mobil 1 HSV Racing.

And now the company has been renamed once again for the 2018 campaign under the Walkinshaw Andretti United banner.

The team will be composed of two Holden ZB Commodores with drivers James Courtney and Scott Pye, as well as a Porsche 911 GT3-R in the Australian GT championship.

What’s next for Andretti’s motorsports portfolio? Right now, it’s pretty full, but you can bet running for championships from Australia (Supercars) to globally (GRC) to Indianapolis (Indy 500) to the U.S. (Verizon IndyCar Series) are at the top of this year’s list.