Michael Andretti says adding Fernando Alonso to their driver line-up for the 101st Indianapolis 500 this May is a great honour, and it links the team boss of Andretti Autosport back to the team that gave him a chance in Formula 1 back in 1993.
Alonso will race for Andretti Autosport in collaboration with McLaren at the end of May, with the Spaniard deciding to race in the legendary oval event rather than the equally legendary Monaco Grand Prix, as he bids to add an Indy 500 victory to his already impressive résumé.
“It’s a great honour to partner with McLaren for the 101st running of the Indianapolis 500 and to bring Fernando into one of our Andretti Autosport Hondas,” said Andretti. “I want to thank Zak [Brown], Honda and McLaren for this tremendous opportunity.
“We’ve been working very closely in the planning of this new partnership and I believe we’ve laid the foundation for a successful month of May. We’re looking forward to giving Fernando an effort in reaching one of his biggest career goals of winning the Indy 500.”
Andretti does not believe that Alonso’s lack of experience on super-speedways will hinder him once he gets through rookie orientation, and having won the race last year with a rookie in Alexander Rossi, it will be possible for the Spaniard to come in and be a frontrunner.
“Fernando’s lack of experience on super-speedways is not of concern to me,” insists Andretti. “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, 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.”
Alonso’s arrival means the team are now up to six entries for this year’s Indy 500, with full time racers Marco Andretti, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Takuma Sato and Rossi being joined by the Spaniard and by Briton Jack Harvey.
“Fernando’s addition to the team takes our stable of entries to six, working in a cooperative effort,” said Andretti. “This sharing of experience and knowledge is what makes Andretti Autosport stand out and gives us that extra competitive edge.”