Fernando Alonso has dominated the headlines this week with news of his shock debut in the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil, in a jointly entered car between McLaren, Honda and Andretti Autosport.
But back in his day job in the McLaren Honda Formula 1 car, Alonso has had yet more mechanical woes, despite making it into Q2 in qualifying Saturday night for Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix (10:30 a.m. ET, CNBC).
Alonso was unable to set a lap in Q2 after getting through in 15th in Q1, which was only made possible by Carlos Sainz Jr. stopping on track at the final corner in his Toro Rosso at the end of Q1 on a lap which would have been quick enough to advance.
With yet another engine change coming as a result, even though Alonso would be due to start 15th he’ll likely start lower than that.
“Yeah we had a problem in the power unit. It blew up. So we will have to change it for tomorrow,” Alonso told NBCSN after the session.
“Obviously there’s no time to calibrate, there’s no warm up or anything we can test. So it’ll be a tough race. We’ll see what we can do. It’s not an ideal situation. Let’s see what happens tomorrow.”
Broken PU for Alonso. P15 in quali but won't be that high on the grid. Another tough day in store.
Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.
Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it would seem right for Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — to spend some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.