Fernando Alonso to race Indy 500

Fernando Alonso will miss the 2017 Monaco GP to race the Indy 500 for McLaren. (Photo: Steven Tee/LAT Images)
Steven Tee/LAT Images

Fernando Alonso will race in the 101st running of the Indianapolis 500 next month.

The two-time Formula One World Champion will miss the Monaco GP and will race for McLaren-Honda at the Brickyard on May 28. It will be McLaren’s first Indianapolis 500 in 38 years and the first of Alonso’s career.

The car will be entered by the Andretti Autosport team. A replacement for Alonso at Monaco has yet to be named.

“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, rivaled 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.

“I’ve never raced an IndyCar car before, and neither have I ever driven on a superspeedway, 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 220 mph. I realize 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 at Indy from May 15 onward, 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.”

The McLaren-Honda-Andretti will be painted in a familiar papaya orange livery that Johnny Rutherford won in when he raced for McLaren at the 1974 and 1976 Indy 500s.

Zak Brown, the Executive Director of McLaren, added that the Indy 500 is an event that’s always been a dream of his.

“As an American, albeit one who fell in love with Formula 1 at a very young age, I’ve always regarded the Indy 500 as a fantastic motor race,” said Brown. “For that reason I’m particularly delighted to have been able to bring McLaren back to Indianapolis in my very first year as McLaren’s Executive Director. Michael [Andretti] is an old friend of mine, and a man I respect enormously, and his Andretti Autosport organization is one of the best in the business. Michael is a winner – indeed his team won the Indy 500 last year with Alexander Rossi, who will be one of Fernando’s teammates at Indy next month – and I couldn’t be happier that Fernando will be making his IndyCar debut in one of Michael’s cars.”

“Fernando’s lack of experience on superspeedways is not of concern to me,” said Andretti Autosport CEO Michael 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.

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