McLaren have announced that King Fernando will skip the Monaco Grand Prix this year to drive at the Indianapolis 500 in a McLaren entered, Andretti Autosports run Dallara Honda. Alonso has described it as one of his dreams to emulate Graham Hill and win the “triple crown” on Monaco, Indy and Le Mans before he hangs up his helmet. He will be taking over the entry of Stefan Wilson, the brother of the late Justin Wilson, who had arranged a one-off drive with Andretti for the event. Apparently the idea began as a joke by Zak Brown before the season began but the thought fermented and an agreement was arrived at before practice in Shanghai last week. The deal with Andretti was then completed in just a couple of days with Wilson agreeing to pull out in Alonso’s favour.


   Alonso will not be the first champion to skip Monaco for a crack at the 500. Way back in 1952 Alberto Ascari took one of the previous years Ferrari 375s to the brickyard but that venture was a failure. In 1965 Jim Clark made the journey work and won the 500 in the beautiful purpose built Lotus 38. Both of these drivers went on to become that years F1 World Champion. I have a sneaking suspicion that Alonso will not emulate that fact this year.


  So who will replace King Fernando at Monaco. I guess Button, as the teams official reserve driver, is the obvious answer but the more you think about that the more unlikely it becomes. In his mind he has basically already retired. He has been doing little training, no actual testing and probably minimal simulator work. What would his motivation be? A one-off drive, while not in peak physical condition, with bugger-all chances of any decent result. Unless someone can be arranged to partake in the test session coming up just after the Bahrain GP beginning on Tuesday, whoever lands the drive will have minimal preparation, especially if it is their F1 debut. It will also need to be someone who is contractually available.


  There are a few recent F1 rejects that could step in. Felipe Nasr perhaps is the most likely of those. I can’t see Gutierrez or Haryanto getting a phone call anytime soon. Short of Lando Norris I don’t know that McLaren has anyone in junior categories that they can call on and Norris would not have the necessary licence in any case. I’m sure Honda would not mind giving Nobuharu Matsushita a chance but would McLaren go for that? So, someone unexpected that would generate some welcome positive publicity and be happy with a competent performance possibly?


  I have an idea that, although completely out of left field (to use another US sporting term), could tick all the boxes. Robert Kubica………..Think about it. What a great story that would generate and no-one would be talking about Honda’s woeful performance. He has the required licence. He has no current contract, as very conveniently he pulled out of his drive in the WEC with the ByKolles squad earlier this week. Coincidence??? Guaranteed competent performance. The demands of the current generation F1 car would not be too stressful around the streets of the principality so Kubica’s arm could probably deal with the strain. Even if he came dead last I’m sure that he, and all F1 fans would love such a moment, so Zak, and Liberty, please give it some thought.


Sam Snape


13-4 2017