Alonso to race in the Indy 500

Double Formula 1 world champion Fernando Alonso will compete in this year’s Indianapolis 500, missing the Monaco Grand Prix due to a date clash.

Following weeks of secret talks involving Honda, McLaren and Alonso, an agreement has been reached for the Spaniard to race in America while the Formula 1 paddock is in Monaco.

Alonso will race a McLaren entry run by the Honda-affiliated Andretti Autosport IndyCar team, headed by former McLaren F1 racer Michael Andretti.

“I’m immensely excited that I’ll be racing in this year’s Indy 500, with McLaren, Honda and Andretti Autosport,” said Alonso.

“The Indy 500 is one of the most famous races on the global motorsport calendar, rivalled only by the Le Mans 24 Hours and the Monaco Grand Prix, and it’s of course a regret of mine that I won’t be able to race at Monaco this year.

“But Monaco will be the only 2017 Grand Prix I’ll be missing, and I’ll be back in the cockpit of the McLaren-Honda MCL32 for the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal in early June.”

The shock decision by McLaren to allow its top driver to contest the Indianapolis 500 comes at a time when Alonso’s future is uncertain, as his contract expires at the end of this season.

It will be Alonso’s first attempt on IndyCar’s most famous race and his first experience of oval racing.

McLaren has twice won the Indy 500 as a team, in 1974 and 1976 with Johnny Rutherford, while a Penske-run McLaren chassis won in 1972 with Mark Donohue.

Executive director Zak Brown says Alonso’s entry “will be decked out in the papaya orange livery made famous by our founder Bruce McLaren, and in which Johnny Rutherford drove McLaren IndyCars to Indy 500 victory”.

The last time a driver raced in both Formula 1 and the Indianapolis 500 in the same season was in 1994, when Nigel Mansell made four Grand Prix starts with Williams alongside his full-time Indycar campaign with Newman/Haas Racing.

Exciting times for motorsport fans and best wishes to Fernando Alonso in his new IndyCar adventures at the Brickyard.

5 thoughts on “Alonso to race in the Indy 500

  1. Fernando Alonso says the desire to win the iconic triple crown of motor racing’s biggest events is behind his shock move to race in the Indianapolis 500 this year.

    The Spaniard has elected to skip the Monaco Grand Prix to race an Andretti-Autosport run McLaren car in the Indy 500 next month.

    Having won the Monaco GP in 2006 and 2007, Alonso hopes to follow in the footsteps of the only triple crown winner, Graham Hill, in also succeeding at the Indy 500 and Le Mans.

    “I’ve won the Monaco Grand Prix twice, and it’s one of my ambitions to win the Triple Crown, which has been achieved by only one driver in the history of motorsport: Graham Hill,” said Alonso.

    “It’s a tough challenge, but I’m up for it. I don’t know when I’m going to race at Le Mans, but one day I intend to. I’m only 35: I’ve got plenty of time for that.”

    Alonso says he will not begin testing at Indy until after the Spanish Grand Prix and, although he knows it will be tough adjusting to ovals, he is confident he can deliver.

    “I realise I’ll be on a steep learning curve,” he said.

    “I’ll be flying to Indianapolis from Barcelona immediately after the Spanish Grand Prix, practising our McLaren-Honda-Andretti car at Indy from May 15 onwards, hopefully clocking up a large number of miles every day, and I know how good the Andretti Autosport guys are.

    “I’ll be proud to race with them, and I intend to mine their knowledge and expertise for as much info as I possibly can.”

    Source: Motorsport.com

  2. Fernando Alonso tipped to be “in the mix” on Indy 500 debut as reported by Motorsport.com.

    McLaren and Andretti Autosport have tipped Fernando Alonso to be “in the mix” when he contests this year’s Indianapolis 500.

    The shock news that McLaren will enter a car with Michael Andretti’s Honda-powered team for its star F1 driver broke on Wednesday, with Alonso stating his desire to win motorsport’s ‘triple crown’ of the Monaco Grand Prix, Indy 500 and Le Mans 24 Hours.

    While Alonso has never raced on an oval or competed in an IndyCar race, his team bosses believe he will be competitive on his debut next month.

    McLaren executive director Zak Brown said: “Could Fernando win this year’s Indy 500? Well, I wouldn’t be so silly as to make any such rash prediction, but I expect him to be in the mix.

    “Put it this way: the team he’ll be racing for won the race last year, using the same Honda engine, and he’s the best racing driver in the world.

    “That’s quite a compelling combination. So, yes, as I say, he’ll be in the mix.

    “OK, equally, he’ll have his work cut out to acclimatise to running at superspeedway velocities, but ultimately it’s quality that counts in all forms of motorsport, and Fernando is very definitely quality.

    “He’s ballsy and brave too. Also, the differences between Formula 1 cars and Indy cars are less marked now than they were in the past.

    “I’ll be at Indy to see McLaren’s return to the Brickyard, and I’ll be a happy man on that day.

    “But I’ll be in constant contact with Eric [Boullier], who’ll be running McLaren-Honda’s Formula 1 operation at Monaco as per usual.”

    Andretti, who made 13 starts for McLaren in the 1993 F1 season, believes his team, McLaren and Honda have “laid the foundation for a successful month of May”.

    “Fernando’s lack of experience on super-speedways is not of concern to me,” he said.

    “I do believe that the Indianapolis 500 is one of the best places for a rookie to start because there is the opportunity for so much practice time on the track – and, as we have demonstrated [with Alexander Rossi in 2016], it can be won by a rookie.

    “Fernando is a great talent and I have full confidence that he will represent very strongly for McLaren, Honda and Andretti Autosport.

    “Fernando’s addition to the team takes our stable of entries to six. This sharing of experience and knowledge is what makes Andretti Autosport stand out and gives us that extra competitive edge.”

  3. Fernando Alonso’s 2017 Indianapolis 500 programme opens the door for McLaren to contest more IndyCar events – and perhaps even a full series schedule – in the future, major shareholder Mansour Ojjeh says.

    The two-time Formula 1 world champion’s plan to miss the Monaco Grand Prix and make his Indy 500 debut next month in a McLaren-entered car run by Honda squad Andretti Autosport was announced on Wednesday.

    McLarens won the Indy 500 three times in the 1970s, initially with Mark Donohue in a Penske-run chassis, then as a team in ’74 and ’76 with Johnny Rutherford.

    Its participation in the race finished later that decade, but Ojjeh says returning with Alonso could pave the way for a more regular presence, not only in the Indy 500 but even in the IndyCar championship itself, as part of the broader McLaren Technology Group’s growth.

    “I’ve attended the Indy 500, and I came away hugely impressed by the scope and scale of this enormous and well-organised event, and the sheer enthusiasm of the hundreds of thousands of fans in attendance,” Ojjeh, MTC executive committee principal, said.

    “More than 30 years [after McLaren’s Indy 500 wins], I’m pleased and proud that we’re about to embark on a new IndyCar era for McLaren, this time with Andretti Autosport and Honda.

    “The Indy 500 is the only IndyCar race we’ll be entering this year, but we may possibly repeat that in years to come and it’s just possible that we may even run a full-works McLaren IndyCar operation at some point in the future. We’ll see.

    “Equally, we may potentially enter the Le Mans 24 Hours again some time – we won it outright in 1995 with our iconic McLaren F1 GTR – but to be clear we have absolutely no definite plans to do so at this stage.”

    Andretti has four Indy 500 victories to its name, including two in the last three years with Ryan Hunter-Reay in 2014 and rookie Alexander Rossi last May.

    McLaren believes Alonso will be “in the mix” next month despite his lack of experience, and IndyCar CEO Mark Miles says its return is a boon for his series’ blue-ribband event.

    “The entire IndyCar community – competitors, fans, media, everyone – are delighted and excited at the prospect of a driver as brilliant as Fernando making his debut in our series,” he said.

    “Even better, he’ll be making that debut in the greatest race of our year: the world-famous Indy 500.

    “And which car will Fernando be driving this year? That’s right: a Honda-powered Andretti Autosport car – the same package that won last year’s race. Could history repeat itself? Stranger things have happened.

    “But, whether or not Fernando wins this year, I’m thrilled that the name of McLaren will be returning to Indianapolis.

    “Three times in the 1970s the Indy 500 was won by a driver at the wheel of a McLaren – one win for Mark Donohue and two wins for Johnny Rutherford – and I’m sure Johnny will be at the Brickyard again this year to cheer on his old team.

    “Last but not least, we should all remember Bruce McLaren, the team’s founder, a brilliant driver-engineer-entrepreneur who was tragically killed while testing a McLaren M8D Can-Am car at Goodwood 47 long years ago, and who was finally and rightfully inducted to the Indianapolis Hall of Fame only this year.”

    Source: Motorsport.com

  4. McLaren have announced that Fernando Alonso will miss this year’s race in Monaco, and will instead race in the Indianapolis 500 which takes place on the same day.

    The 35-year-old Spaniard will race a McLaren-entered, Honda-powered car in the legendary IndyCar oval race, prepared by former McLaren driver Michael Andretti’s crack Andretti Autosport team – winners of the race last year with former F1 driver Alexander Rossi.

    McLaren say that they will confirm the identity of the driver who will race Alonso’s car in Monaco in due course, though the natural favourite would be Jenson Button, who remains under contract to the team.

    “I’m immensely excited that I’ll be racing in this year’s Indy 500, with McLaren, Honda and Andretti Autosport,” said Alonso, whose participation will mark the first time the Woking-based team have entered the event in 38 years.

    “The Indy 500 is one of the most famous races on the global motorsport calendar, rivalled only by the Le Mans 24 Hours and the Monaco Grand Prix [which Fernando has won twice, one of those victories at the wheel of a McLaren (in 2007)], and it’s of course a regret of mine that I won’t be able to race at Monaco this year. But Monaco will be the only 2017 Grand Prix I’ll be missing, and I’ll be back in the cockpit of the McLaren-Honda MCL32 for the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal in early June.

    “I’ve never raced an IndyCar car before, and neither have I ever driven on a super-speedway, but I’m confident that I’ll get to grips with it fast. I’ve watched a lot of IndyCar action on TV and online, and it’s clear that great precision is required to race in close proximity with other cars on the far side of 220mph [354km/h].

    “I realise I’ll be on a steep learning curve, but I’ll be flying to Indianapolis from Barcelona immediately after the Spanish Grand Prix, practising our McLaren-Honda-Andretti car at Indy from May 15th onwards, hopefully clocking up a large number of miles every day, and I know how good the Andretti Autosport guys are. I’ll be proud to race with them, and I intend to mine their knowledge and expertise for as much info as I possibly can.

    “I’ve won the Monaco Grand Prix twice, and it’s one of my ambitions to win the Triple Crown [the Monaco Grand Prix, the Indianapolis 500 and the Le Mans 24 Hours], which has been achieved by only one driver in the history of motorsport: Graham Hill. It’s a tough challenge, but I’m up for it. I don’t know when I’m going to race at Le Mans, but one day I intend to. I’m only 35: I’ve got plenty of time for that.”

    McLaren’s executive director Zak Brown hailed power unit partner Honda’s influence in the project saying: “This project wouldn’t have been possible without Honda’s support and encouragement. And our car – the McLaren-Honda-Andretti – will be decked out in the papaya orange livery made famous by our founder Bruce McLaren, and in which Johnny Rutherford drove McLaren IndyCars to Indy 500 victory in both 1974 and 1976.”

    Speaking on whether Alonso had a chance to win the famous race, Brown said: “Well, I wouldn’t be so silly as to make any such rash prediction, but I expect him to be in the mix.

    “Put it this way: the team he’ll be racing for won the race last year, using the same Honda engine, and he’s the best racing driver in the world. That’s quite a compelling combination. So, yes, as I say, he’ll be in the mix.

    “OK, equally, he’ll have his work cut out to acclimatise to running at super-speedway velocities, but ultimately it’s quality that counts in all forms of motorsport, and Fernando is very definitely quality. He’s ballsy and brave too. Also, the differences between Formula 1 cars and IndyCars are less marked now than they were in the past. Formula 1 cars weigh about the same as IndyCars these days – just north of 700kg [1543lb] – and Formula 1 cars actually develop more power than IndyCar cars do, whereas it used to be the other way around in the past.”

    Mansour Ojjeh, executive committee principal of the McLaren Technology Group, hinted that McLaren could look to branch out even further than the Indy 500 in the future.

    “The Indy 500 is the only IndyCar race we’ll be entering this year, but we may possibly repeat that in years to come and it’s just possible that we may even run a full-works McLaren IndyCar operation at some point in the future,” he said.

    From 1950 until 1960, the Indianapolis 500 was a round of the F1 world championship. McLaren first entered it in 1970, and took pole at the Brickyard a year later. 14-time Grand Prix starter Mark Donohue won the race in a privateer McLaren M16B in 1972, while Johnny Rutherford added a pair of full-time works wins in 1974 and 1976.

    Honda meanwhile may have struggled in F1 this year, but they have powered the first two cars to have won races in IndyCar this season.

    Source: Formula1.com

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