As suggested, could Alonso and/or Vettel in Indy 500 be a realistic proposition?


Could it happen? Would it happen?

In the aftermath of Nico Hulkenberg winning last week’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, and the magnitude that carries on the worldwide motorsports scale, it hearkens back nicely to the days when the modern gladiators could race in all different forms of motorsport, rather than being specialized in one discipline.

Our NBC Sports Group F1 pit reporter and insider Will Buxton suggested the possibility of drivers wanting or keen to do next year’s Indianapolis 500, which is the 100th running of the race.

Both Fernando Alonso of McLaren Honda and Sebastian Vettel of Scuderia Ferrari addressed the topic in Thursday’s Austrian Grand Prix edition of the NBC Sports Group original digital series, Paddock Pass.

“As I said there are three races in the world are very attractive: Indy 500, 24 Hours of Le Mans, and the Monte Carlo Grand Prix in Monaco. The other races are more normal. Those three are something unique,” Alonso told Buxton.

“I love the experience of being [in Le Mans] last year, seeing the passion. After winning in Formula 1, winning that race would be very special. The way they are pushing all the laps in a consistent pace is very attractive from a driver point of view. You’re doing the same car for many hours. In F1, you drive a different car every lap. There are many things that are variable.”

Regarding Indianapolis, Alonso replied to a bit of laughter, “Maybe, you know? I’m very young. If I shave, I’m very young.”

Vettel, who has a decent fan base in North America and has made several promotional appearances in the country – notably a 2012 appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman – hailed both the U.S. and Canada.

“Well unfortunately we only go there twice or once, once to U.S, and twice to North America,” Vettel told Buxton. “Racing there is always great, with a lot of fans coming. It’s one of the greatest races in the history of racing. If you look back a long way. Yeah there’s a couple of big events happening around the globe. Indy 500 is one of them.”

Here’s what he had to say when asked about Indianapolis.

“I know, I’ve seen that as well, the 100th anniversary. There’s no clash, but it’s not that easy to jump in. Unless you’re Nico Hulkenberg! Then you can do it. Just jumping in and doing a good job, oval racing is very different to racing in Formula 1.”

So that sets the scene, and it’s at this point we come to the thorny and inevitable next step of the calendar, which dictates all in terms of feasibility.

If there is no clash as suggested, that moves the Monaco Grand Prix either a week earlier to May 22 or a week after to June 5, and most likely it would be earlier as the third weekend in May. The 100th Indianapolis 500 has been announced for May 29.

Qualifying weekend for the Indianapolis 500 will be May 21-22. Almost certainly, the opening day of practice would be Sunday, May 8, before the track is converted over to road course specifications for the third Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis that runs May 12-14.

Assuming neither the May 8 or May 22 weekend has an F1 date on it, and provided Vettel (for sure) and Alonso (almost certainly) are still in F1 in 2016, they’d be available for those two preliminary weekends. The Spanish Grand Prix could run on either the May 6-8 or May 13-15 weekend.

As Vettel says though, you can’t just jump in and go for oval racing, and realistically that would mean at some point in the latter stage of 2015 a team would need to work out the details to provide either driver a preliminary test at the Speedway.

The Kurt Busch planning for 2014 began in May of 2013, when Andretti Autosport rolled a car out for him to do his rookie orientation, then announced in April 2014 that Busch would be competing in a fifth car in the Indianapolis 500. Busch, of course, won that year’s rookie-of-the-year honors.

Again, we return to the calendar. F1 heads for its summer break following the Hungarian Grand Prix on July 26 and is off until the Belgian Grand Prix August 23.

IndyCar has two weekends off after its Mid-Ohio race August 2. So in that two-week period before Spa, IndyCar teams could be available to run a car for an ROP test.

The catch there from an IMS scheduling standpoint is that August 7-9 is the MotoGP weekend on the road course. That takes the first of two off weeks out of play; however, the track could be open from there.

IndyCar ends its schedule on August 30 in Sonoma. There’s roughly a month to a month and a half from that point that could see usable track time before temperatures get too cold to utilize IMS.

F1’s schedule is hectic in September with three weekends racing, in Monza, Singapore and Suzuka.

F1 of course heads Stateside in October with the fourth United States Grand Prix in Austin on October 25. Could a window of possibility exist in-between the Russian Grand Prix on October 11 and the USGP two weeks later?

So that’s the schedule situation.

But the schedule only becomes something to sort if McLaren, Honda or Ferrari is OK with one of its World Champion drivers, A. having interest, B. acknowledging the interest, and C. allowing that interest to grow into something more – as Force India has done with Hulkenberg in allowing him to race at Le Mans.

Hey, at least Honda and JR Hildebrand have already talked about this on social media, and that’s half the battle itself.

Is it a likely scenario? Not really. Is it possible, provided all parties agree to it happening for the good of the sport, and the good of the 100th 500? Certainly.

Would it be absolutely mega if it happened? Completely.

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup

IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 3 p.m. to USA Network.



Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III