What other Formula One races could Fernando Alonso miss to take up better offers in other motor sports?

Sean Gibson

McLaren-Honda driver Fernando Alonso has decided to give the Monaco Grand Prix a miss this season, in favour of making his Indycar debut at the legendary Indy 500 race.

It's been a trying season for Alonso so far in 2017, his third with McLaren, and the team's performance levels remain woefully short both of their own historic standards and their Spanish driver's expectations.

A 35-year-old double champion, Alonso desperately craves a real shot at a third world title before retirement – a prospect that has grown increasingly remote after a frustrating five-year spell with an underperforming Ferrari and now the litany of mishaps that has enveloped McLaren-Honda.

So Alonso, in his yearning for some real racing, will compete in his maiden race in the US racing series in May.

But what other racing events could Alonso be tempted to compete in at the expense of his Formula One commitments? McLaren and Honda are working on rebuilding their 2017-model car but there is no guarantee it will be any more competitive than their current effort. After 16 seasons in the hot seat in F1, the Spaniard could look to cherry-pick a few more weekends off.

Alonso's head could be turned by other motor sports if his F1 ambitions remain frustratedCredit: Albert Gea/REUTERS

Here are some of his options:

The Bojangles Southern 500 (NASCAR)

Dates: Sep 3

Race he would miss: Italian Grand Prix

Alonso's fellow F1 pilot Romain Grosjean has previously shown interest in racing in this series, as his Haas team also have an entry in that series. But why not beat them to the punch?

Sadly the 2017 edition of the Daytona 500 has been and gone, the NASCAR season-opener having taken place in February. There's always the Brickyard 400, on July 23 – but Alonso will have already driven the full Indianapolis Speedway by then, and besides it doesn't even clash with an F1 race weekend: bor-ing.

Alonso likes ovals? Very well - give him ovalsCredit:  Alex Gallardo/AP Photo
Wait, you mean I could be driving that car instead?Credit: Hassan Ammar/AP

However, the delightfully named Bojangles Southern 500 takes place in South Carolina in September, and would allow Alonso to get out of racing his McLaren at the Italian Grand Prix.

With the Honda-powered McLaren so frighteningly slow in a straight line compared to its rivals, a visit to one of the fastest circuits on the calendar, Monza, would not be enjoyable for anyone associated with the team. Best avoided for Fernando.

WRC Spain

Dates: Oct 6-8

Race he would miss: Japanese Grand Prix

The Rally de España in Tarragona, Catalonia, would give Alonso the chance of a break from circuit racing, to enjoy a different kind of motor sport in front of a favourable crowd.

Now that's a street circuit
Why does it always rain on me?Credit: Andy Wong/AP

McLaren might not be best pleased with this plan, given the tragedy that befell former Formula One star Robert Kubica in a rallying accident in 2011. But adrenalin-fuelled driving it would unquestionably provide for the excitement-starved Alonso.

Isle of Man TT

Date: June 9

Race he would miss: Canadian Grand Prix

The late John Surtees was a champion on two and four wheels, and Britain's 1996 F1 champion Damon Hill began his career on motorcycles. Surely Alonso would not only fancy a go at one of the greatest bike races on the planet, he might well be able to compete too.

Don't look back in angerCredit: DIEGO AZUBEL/EPA
Would Fernando Alonso fancy picking his way along the Manx roads?Credit: IAN WALTON/Getty 

Although the senior race takes place on Friday June 9, technically only getting Alonso out of the first practice session of F1's Canadian Grand Prix, we'll assume that he wouldn't then be able to make the transatlantic trip in quite enough time for qualifying on the Saturday.

But if he's in Europe for that weekend anyway...

MotoGP, Catalan and Valencian Grands Prix

Dates: June 11 & Nov 12

Races he would miss: Canadian and Brazilian Grands Prix respectively

... Alonso might fancy staying on the bikes and getting involved in the MotoGP!

Modern bike legend Valentino Rossi has previously tested a Ferrari F1 car; it's time F1 sent a champion of its own in the other direction. And where better for Alonso to make his debut than in front of his familiar home crowd in Barcelona?

Fellow Spaniard Maverick Viñales, foreground, is leading the 2017 MotoGP championshipCredit: JUAN MABROMATA/AFP

There's also the season-ending Valencian race to consider, which would get the Spaniard out of the bumpy Brazilian Grand Prix, if Alonso doesn't fancy another spin around the Circuit de Catalunya.

World RX of Belgium

Dates: May 13-14

Race he would miss: Spanish Grand Prix

If Alonso cannot bear to face his home fans in the orange monster that is the McLaren MCL32, he could always elect to go rallycrossing instead.

Don't let my glad expression give you the wrong impressionCredit: WILLIAM WEST/AFP
Alonso might not be able to cut it across multiple surfaces in RX - but you can be sure he would enjoy tryingCredit: David Ramos/Getty 

The F1 circus visits Barcelona on the weekend of May 13-14, the scene of all Alonso's and McLaren's pre-season testing disasters. It would be understandable if he did not want to return.

British Touring Cars

Date: Sep 17

Race he would miss: Singapore Grand Prix

A night race in Singapore? No thank you! Even if a street race gives Alonso the best chance of a good finish in his underpowered McLaren, that hasn't stopped him skipping out on the Monaco Grand Prix.

Instead, Alonso would surely relish the wheel-to-wheel racing of the British Touring Car Championship – and where better than Silverstone, a track he knows well from his F1 career, to make his debut?

Alonso would have to fight for every inch in the BTCCCredit: Ker Robertson/Getty 

No aerodynamic frippery causing turbulent air in touring-car racing; Alonso would be able to get straight in, bumper-to-bumper with a field of seasoned racers that still includes names like Jason Plato and Matt Neal. The latter began his career in the BTCC when little 'Nando was just shy of his 10th birthday!

The DTM, the German-equivalent touring car series, could also be an avenue of exploration for Alonso, but not one of their races falls on the same weekend as a round of the F1 world championship. It's almost as if they've planned it that way – no fun at all.

When will McLaren be fast again?Credit: Clive Mason/Getty 

Speedway

Date: April 14

Race he would miss: Bahrain Grand Prix

To be quite frank, if Alonso fancies some speedway, he's spoilt for choice as the British season gets going in earnest.

Speedway could be a novel choice for Fernando Alonso to get his racing fixCredit: Adamjennison111/English Wikipedia

If any one of the Belle Vue Aces, the King's Lynn Stars, the Wolverhampton Wolves, the Rye House Rockets, the Poole Pirates or the Somerset Rebels is missing a rider this Friday night, Alonso could have a possible route out of F1 right now, before the Bahrain GP, if he badly needs an immediate break.

Ranked: Every F1 race in the 2017 championship, from worst to best

 

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