Reports: Honda nixes Fernando Alonso racing for Andretti at Indy 500

Joe Skibinski/IndyCar
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If two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso makes a return to the Indianapolis 500 this May, he won’t be with Andretti Autosport, according to multiple reports.

RACER.com reported Sunday that Alonso and Andretti Autosport were nearing a deal to reunite at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but Honda put the brakes on the arrangement. RACER reported that the deal, which also would have included some road-course races, was blocked by Honda’s global headquarters in Japan after being sent for review by Honda Performance Development.

Citing an unnamed source, the Indianapolis Star confirmed the RACER report later Sunday.

The news comes after several years of hard feelings between Alonso and Honda. The engine manufacturer returned to Formula One in 2015 by forming a partnership with McLaren, whom Alonso was driving for at the time.

But the team experienced several poor results and engine performance issues, leading to a widely-publicized incident in which a frustrated Alonso referred to the Honda powerplant as a “GP2 engine” (a reference to F1’s feeder series) over his radio during the 2015 Japanese Grand Prix.

Alonso still made his Indianapolis 500 debut in 2017 in an Andretti Honda, leading 27 laps before finishing 24th because of an engine failure.

After retiring from F1 in 2018, Alonso returned to Indy with McLaren last year, but Honda reportedly blocked Alonso and McLaren from using one of its engines. Alonso failed to qualify in a Chevy for the 2019 Indy 500. He since has left McLaren after serving as a brand ambassador.

If he is limited to Chevrolet options again for the May 24 race at Indy, Alonso will face a challenge to find a high-profile seat. Team Penske (four cars) and Ed Carpenter Racing (three) likely are at their max entries for the 104th running of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

Arrow McLaren SP, Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, DragonSpeed, Juncos Racing and A.J. Foyt Racing would seem the options for Alonso if he were to continue his pursuit of capturing the final leg of auto racing’s “Triple Crown” (having already won the 24 Hours of Le Mans and Monaco Grand Prix).

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Santino Ferrucci will drive No. 14 for AJ Foyt Racing full time in 2023 IndyCar season

Santino Ferrucci AJ Foyt
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Santino Ferrucci will return to full-time racing in the NTT IndyCar Series next season, joining AJ Foyt Racing.

Ferrucci had made eight IndyCar starts with three teams since his last full-time season in 2020 while also racing part time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series this year.

He will drive the storied No. 14 Dallara-Chevrolet for four-time Indy 500 winner A.J. Foyt’s team, which will field the car from its Waller, Texas headquarters.

“It’s incredibly exciting to be back in the INDYCAR Series full time,” Ferrucci said in a team release. “Being a part-time driver over the last two years has been hard for me, personally. I’m a race car driver, and I want to compete. Working with different teams has been exciting, and I’m proud that no matter which car I’ve raced, I’ve always shown speed and consistency. I couldn’t be more excited to join AJ Foyt Racing in the 14 Chevy. I can’t wait to make the best of it.”

Ferrucci, 24, had finished a career-best fourth in IndyCar four times, including the 104th Indy 500 in 2020. He was the 2019 Indy 500 rookie of the year with a sixth.

In nine Xfinity starts since 2021, Ferrucci has a career-best finish of 13th at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

“I am thrilled to welcome Santino to the team,” Larry Foyt said in a release. “He’s shown a knack for getting toward the front of the field, and I think he is a racer who moves forward on race day. A.J. sees the fire in him and has enjoyed their meetings together. I think Santino’s experience will help his rookie teammate as well, so he is a great addition to our roster.”

Ferrucci will be teamed at AJ Foyt Racing with Benjamin Pedersen, who finished fifth in the 2022 Indy Lights standings. The team has yet to specify the number for Pedersen’s entry, which will be fielded out of its Indianapolis race shop.

Foyt’s two full-time drivers last season were Dalton Kellett and Kyle Kirkwood, who is moving to Andretti Autosport.