The Supercars championship has escaped the winter and headed north for its annual trip to the Top End, where history was made at Hidden Valley with the first-ever winner of the Darwin Triple Crown trophy.
Fernando Alonso has already experienced a stateside dalliance, and he’s displayed every indication that he wants to pursue further opportunities outside of Formula One.
There’s no reason the Spaniard can’t revive the jet setting lifestyle of yesteryear’s drivers.
Having proven his competitiveness at IndyCar’s hallmark event – the Indianapolis 500 – earlier this year, Alonso has secured a berth at IMSA’s 24 Hours of Daytona in January, yet possesses designs on a greater presence in closed cockpits.
Despite recommitting to McLaren following extensive contemplation, with renewed optimism on the back of the Woking outfit’s split with Honda, the 36-year-old remains ambitious in his quest to fulfill the feted ‘Triple Crown’, chasing an entry at Le Mans in 2018.
LMP1 World Endurance Championship competitor Toyota has been rocked by Porsche’s imminent departure twelve months following sister marque Audi’s exit, and despite its considerably smoothed passage to glory at Circuit le Sarthe and the title, the Japanese manufacturer continues to weigh its own future.
Courting Alonso’s services hints it will remain in the series, and boasting somebody of his calibre would be reason alone to continue – particularly in the short term until WEC and Formula One finalise their respective visions into the next decade.
WEC’s switch to a winter schedule from next season, encompassing 2019 and 2020, raises the potential for the two-time champion to compete in the series in a near full-time capacity, with its calendar largely avoiding clashes with Formula One.
As it stands, just one event clashes with the latter’s calendar – the Six Hours of Fuji coinciding with the United States GP thus, from a logistical perspective, there is nothing stopping Alonso from accumulating the frequent flier mileage.
Brendon Hartley has displayed no ill effects from combining the past two WEC events with his unforeseen Formula One debut last month, the Kiwi will have competed in either category over seven successive weekends following each’s season finale across the next fortnight.
Despite this, McLaren racing director, Eric Boullier, has expressed skepticism over the Spaniard spreading himself too thin, with the Frenchman remarking “I don’t think you can physically do two programmes, it is too complicated … it is a huge distraction.”
It is certain that Liberty Media realises the scope for marketing, and would quietly encourage the outfit to oblige Alonso if he wishes to do so, in keeping with its desire to make Formula One more accessible than ever on a collective level.
Admittedly, Formula One’s calendar wasn’t so expansive in their time, though drivers in the 1960’s and 1970’s routinely combined duties on either side of the Atlantic, in addition to competing in Australia and New Zealand through the off-season.
Toro Rosso alumnus, Sébastien Buemi, runs parallel programmes in WEC and Formula E, claiming titles in both, despite its’ rigours apparently consuming the Swiss following his bizarre outburst at all competitors in the latter in the wake of an accident earlier this year.
At the least, Alonso should acclimatise with the Six Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, which precedes Le Mans, as Renault’s Nico Hülkenberg did with Porsche en route success at the great race in 2015.
If Fernando Alonso can manage full-time commitments in dual categories, what’s stopping others?