Wickens: “Ruthless” Alonso will boost Arrow McLaren SP
Robert Wickens says Fernando Alonso joining Arrow McLaren SP for the 104th running of the Indianapolis 500 will bring “a whole new dimension” to the team, given his experience and renowned work ethic.
The two-time Formula 1 World Champion was last week confirmed as making his third attempt at Indy from behind the wheel of the #66 Arrow McLaren SP-Chevrolet, partnering with the squad’s full-season drivers rookie Oliver Askew and Patricio O’Ward who has eight races under his belt.
Wickens, who in 2018 won Rookie of the Year title in both the IndyCar Series and the Indy 500, is still recuperating from his devastating crash at Pocono Raceway that year, and has since become a driver consultant at the Sam Schmidt/Ric Peterson-owned squad. He’s eagerly anticipating working with Alonso in the Month of May.
Wickens told Motorsport.com: “It’s going to be really exciting. In fact, as a fan of the sport, I think it’s going to be incredible.
“For me, it’s going to be my first time working side-by-side with a world champion so that’s going to be fun. I’ve always heard how ruthless his work ethic has been throughout his entire career, and I see little bits of me when I hear about how he likes to work. So I’m assuming we’ll have fairly good chemistry and we’ll click.”
Wickens also believes it will be an eye opening experience for Askew and O’Ward who the Indy Lights titles in 2019 and ’18 respetively.
“Fernando’s always been known to push teams very heavily, push as hard as he can, and for our two ‘kids’ it’s going to be good for them to see what it takes from a work ethic standpoint,” he said.
“I think some young drivers in their early years as professionals don’t realize that the driving side is often the easy part once you reach this level. It’s what they do behind the scenes that will set them apart from the competition.
“So it’s a going to be really cool for them to watch him at work and share feedback and information.”
Alonso stated last week that he’s interested in competing in additional IndyCar races, and that preparing himself by competing on the IMS road course in the GMR Grand Prix of Indianapolis could be beneficial. Both McLaren CEO Zak Brown and Schmidt have suggested there’s a possibility of that happening.
Were that deal to come about, Wickens expects Alonso to perform well.
“Whatever races he does, he’s going to bring a lot of experience,” he said. “Even though this is only going to be only his third shot at Indy, you expect him to be strong because of what we said already – his work ethic and talent.
“[Regarding the Indy GP], that would be really cool. I’d be very curious to see how he’d get on driving a roadcourse because obviously he’s no slouch in open-wheel cars – or closed-wheel cars – on a road course! Yeah it would be fun.
“Alonso is so talented and well-rounded and diverse, he’s going to bring a whole new dimension to our team.”
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