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Horner calls McLaren ‘mad’ to let Alonso enter ‘nutty’ Indy 500

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Red Bull Formula 1 chief Christian Horner believes that McLaren is “mad” to let Fernando Alonso race in the 101st Indianapolis 500, saying he would not let his drivers miss a grand prix to do another event.

McLaren announced on Wednesday that it would be entering Alonso into the Indy 500 as part of a joint entry with Honda and Andretti Autosport, meaning the Spaniard will skip the Monaco Grand Prix.

The news has split opinion in the F1 paddock, with a number of drivers saying that although they would like to enter other events, they would not do so at the expense of existing commitments.

Speaking on Friday in Bahrain, Horner – in a somewhat expressive mood, it must be noted – made his feelings about McLaren’s allowance to let Alonso enter the ‘500 clear while sat next to its executive director and the man who brokered the deal, Zak Brown.

“It’s difficult one for Fernando, he’s having a tough time. Zak’s got the problem he’s got a depressed driver on his hands, he’s trying to keep him motivated,” Horner said.

“He’s come up with this idea, send him to Indianapolis. He must be barking mad, it’s the nuttiest race I’ve ever seen. No testing, he’s just going to jump in the car. Turn 1 there is a proper turn as well, it’s not just easy flat all the way around. I think he needs to see a psychiatrist personally.

“Would we let our drivers do it? No. I believe if a driver commits to a team, it’s a bit like disappearing with another girlfriend halfway through the year and then coming back. It doesnt’ seem the right thing to be doing.

“Perhaps if the races didn’t clash or at the end of his Formula 1 career, but obviously McLaren has got this approach which is different to ours, but good for them.”

Asking for the right to reply, Brown defended the decision, putting his faith in Alonso.

“Fernando’s not scared! He’s going to get some testing in,” Brown explained. “He’s studying Indianapolis. It’s obviously going to be a challenge but he wants a challenge. A rookie driver won it last year, not that we’re going to set any expectations.

“I think he’ll have a car capable of running at the front. I think he’ll be extremely prepared. I think he’ll put on a good show. He’s very smart, that’s what you need to be around Indianapolis. I think it’s going to be good, everyone’s going to be watching.”

Brown then took to Twitter to respond to Horner’s psychiatrist line, reminding the Red Bull chief of the time he jumped into the team’s pool at Monaco wearing nothing but a superman cape after losing a bet.

Here’s what drivers said after Sunday’s INDYCAR race was postponed until Monday

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Here’s what several drenched drivers had to say after Sunday’s Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama was postponed until Monday morning (11:30 a.m. ET, LIVE on NBCSN):

JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 1 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet, 2017 Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama winner, 2018 pole winner): “It’s tough because we have so many people that come out here to watch us. We want to put on a good race. We want to put on a show. So calling the race, running around behind the pace car not running, it’s tough, it’s tough to do that. But I think it was the right thing in the end. When we started the race, the conditions were OK. You could run at that level of rain. Then, it intensified right before that first caution. I think when the caution came out, it got to a point where it was just too much. There was too much puddling and pooling of water on every straightaway. Then the rivers started flowing, high-speed compressions in Turns 1 and 2, fast corner, 12 and 13, fast corner where the river starts to form. Just tough. I mean, look, we love racing in the rain. It’s got nothing to do with not wanting to run in the rain, not being able to do that. It’s that this type of track with this water level was too much to race today. We’ve run here in the rain before, but it intensified to the point where you’re starting to get in a situation where it’s going to take it out of the drivers’ hands. What happened with Will (Power), I don’t think is a driver error. I don’t know how anyone is going to drive hydroplaning on the front straightaway. I think you would have had that for the rest of the track, too. A tough situation. Thanks for the fans that came out and supported us. Hopefully we’ll get some people back tomorrow and we’ll get the show in and put on a great event.”

MATHEUS “MATT” LEIST (No. 4 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet):
“Tough day so far. We had some problems with our radio and fuel alarm, but otherwise the car was alright. It was just too dangerous out there, we couldn’t see anything, so I think they made the right call. Hopefully we’ll have a good race tomorrow.”

WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “It’s just a real shame for everyone on the Verizon Chevy team. The car was good and we were doing our best out there, but it was really hard to see anything in front of me. The conditions were just so bad. As soon as I got to the frontstraight, the car just came around, and I tried to keep it off the wall, but it was hydroplaning and there was nothing I could do. I feel bad for the team and for the fans in this weather. Just too bad. Hopefully our luck can turn around when we get to Indianapolis.”

TONY KANAAN (No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “Very difficult day for us. In the race we were 13th at the time and we had some electrical issues, so that caused us to pit and we lost a lap. Not the ideal situation, but we don’t give up. There’s still a race tomorrow and we’re going to go for the most points. Anything can happen.”

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 Mi-Jack Honda): “It was a tough beginning, but when we kind of got going it was OK and kind of fun to challenge for a while, but visibility was a major issue today, no doubt. I’m glad that the series postponed it. I would have like to get it in today, but that’s life. We will go racing tomorrow.”

ALEXANDER ROSSI (No. 27 Kerauno / MilitaryToMotorsports.com Honda, Verizon IndyCar Series points leader): “I think definitely the right decision was made to red flag the race. It’s a very difficult position for everyone to be in. It’s never the result that you want, but safety is obviously a priority. I think everyone did a good job considering the conditions of looking out for each other. Not being able to see is not doing anybody any good. It is hard for everyone, but glad that we’re all in one piece and try again later.

TAKUMA SATO (No. 30 Mi-Jack / Panasonic Honda): “As you could see on TV, if you couldn’t see the car, it was probably three times worse in the cockpit on the main straight or any straight. You had to completely trust the guys that they were accelerating. Never the less, I made good progress on the short stint and I made up a few positions.  The car was working well, but also was aquaplaning a lot, too, so I have to respect INDYCAR’s decision for everyone’s safety. Now we really need to concentrate on having a good car for tomorrow. I’m sorry for the fans that sat in rain all day, but thank them for their support.”

RENE BINDER (No. 32 Binderholz tiptop timber Chevrolet): “It was a short day. In the beginning the conditions were not that good, but afterwards the conditions started to improve. The race was stopped, then restarted, and I think the conditions were not too bad at that point. Unfortunately, it was red flagged again and then cancelled for the day. It would have been nice to get halfway, but we will come back and try again tomorrow.”