Fernando Alonso has sensationally failed to qualify for the 2019 Indy 500.
The Spaniard had slipped into Sunday's 'Bump Day' qualifying shootout to determine the drivers who start on the final row of the grid for the famous race. Alonso 227.353mph four-lap average was beaten by American driver Kyler Kaiser by just 0.019mph.
Alonso has struggled with the set-up of his car since arriving at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway earlier this month. The Spaniard crashed during a practice session earlier this week.
His failure to qualify means he will have to wait another year at least to try and claim the final part of motor racing's Triple Crown. Alonso has already won the Monaco Grand Prix and the Le Mans 24 Hours, meaning he needs to win at the famous oval circuit to complete the accolade only achieved by one other driver, Graham Hill.
We're hugely disappointed not to make it through to next Sunday's 2019 #Indy500. It's been a tough week for the team. We're sorry that our fans didn't get the chance to cheer us on at the Brickyard, but thank you all so much for your support. #McLaren66 pic.twitter.com/neFFh0L5Xt— McLaren Indy (@McLarenIndy) May 19, 2019
A difficult week, no doubts. We tried our best, even today with a completely different set up and approach, 4 laps flat on the throttle but we were not fast enough. It's never easy to drive around here at 227mph +,... https://t.co/f49ZnnWwqG— Fernando Alonso (@alo_oficial) May 19, 2019
The result is a blow to Alonso, who left F1 last year to focus properly on his second Indy 500 attempt, and McLaren, after it cacommitted significant resources into this year's race in order to help the Spaniard claim the win. Alonso impressed on his first visit to the Brickyard in 2017, leading for a spell before being thwarted by a late engine issue.
Alonso's 2017 entry was done as a joint bid between McLaren and Andretti Autosport, but this year McLaren opted for a full entry. It built a team to send to the race, headed up by former Force India deputy team boss Bob Fernley, who left the team after it was taken over by Lawrence Stroll last year.
McLaren entered this event as a feeler for a potential full-time IndyCar season in future, something company CEO Zak Brown has said is under ongoing evaluation. It competed in 2017 with a Honda engine but was forced to take a Chevrolet to this year's race after failing to secure a deal with its former Formula One engine partner -- McLaren and Honda split in acrimonious circumstances at the end of 2017, three years into its ten-year partnership.
Technically, Alonso and McLaren can buy itself an entry on the grid and still compete in the race on May 26. However, this seems unlikely -- the entry would need to be another Chevrolet-powered car.
New Red Bull junior Patricio O'Ward also joined Alonso in being eliminated from the 'Bump Day' shootout. O'Ward and his Carlin teammate, former F1 driver Max Chilton, who led the 2017 race for 50 of the 200 laps, are both going home a week earlier than planned.