McLaren F1 driver to make a shock assault on the Indianapolis 500.
The surprise move has come against the backdrop of a disappointing start to the 2017 Formula 1 season for the Spaniard, with the McLaren-Honda package not delivering all that had been hoped. However, despite Monaco perhaps offering McLaren its best chance of a result early in the campaign, the lure of contesting the iconic Indy 500 has proved too much for Alonso.
Following weeks of secret talks involving Honda, McLaren and Alonso, agreement has been reached for the two-time F1 champion to race in a McLaren-Honda entry run by Andretti Autosport, which will be painted in McLaren's iconic orange livery. It will be Alonso’s first attempt on IndyCar’s most famous race and his first experience of oval racing.
“I’m immensely excited that I’ll be racing in this year’s Indy 500, with McLaren, Honda and Andretti Autosport," said the Spaniard.
“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.
“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."
McLaren has yet to officially confirm who will replace Alonso for the clashing Monaco F1 race, but retired 2009 champion Jenson Button is considered the favourite to land the seat.