Fernando Alonso will eschew the Monaco Grand Prix and race at the Indianapolis 500 instead this year as McLaren returns to the Brickyard for the first time in 38 years – albeit, using using Honda engines.
McLaren will enter a single car in the 101st Indianapolis 500 – to be powered by Honda and run by the Andretti Autosport team – but driven by Alonso, who has started 275 Grands Prix [winning 32 of those races] and is a two-time Formula 1 world champion.
Since the Indianapolis 500 will take place on the same day as the Monaco Grand Prix, Alonso will not race at Monaco this year and the Indianapolis 500 will be the only 2017 IndyCar race in which Alonso will compete, while the Monaco Grand Prix will be the only 2017 Formula 1 race in which he will not compete.
Next month, McLaren-Honda is expected announce the identity of the driver who will race in Alonso’s car at the Monaco Grand Prix.
In the official release from McLaren-Honda, Alonso talks more about missing the Monaco Grand Prix for the opportunity to race at the Indy 500.
“I’m immensely excited that I’ll be racing in this year’s Indy 500, with McLaren, Honda and Andretti Autosport.
“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 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 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 15th onwards.
“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 Indianapolis 500 is currently scheduled to be held on May 28, 2017.