In a surprising revelation, two-time Formula 1 World Champion Fernando Alonso has announced he’ll race in the Indianapolis 500 this year. The Spaniard will compete for Andretti Autosport taking the team up to four drivers.
Due to a clash of dates, Alonso will also miss the Monaco Grand Prix, potentially opening the door to Jenson Button returning for the fated race with the McLaren Honda outfit.
Alonso admitted that he would struggle, considering his lack of experience in an IndyCar, but was looking forward to the weekend that could be a career defining moment for the 35-year-old.
“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, practicing our McLaren-Honda-Andretti car in Indianapolis from May 15th onwards, hopefully clocking up a large number of miles every day, and I know how good the Andretti Autosport guys are.”
Should he win the 500, Alonso would become only the third active driver, after Jacques Villeneuve and Juan Pablo Montoya, to win two stages of the Triple Crown of Motorsport. He stated that winning the Triple Crown was an ambition of his potentially opening the door to a future Le Mans effort.
“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. 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.”
Last years 500 was won by Alexander Rossi racing the sister team in the Andretti Herta Autosport car. The deal helps secure the relationship between Alonso and Honda, who supply the engine for the Andretti team.