It will be Alonso’s first time in the showcase race as he steps up his bid to win the so-called “Triple Crown” of motor sport: the Monaco GP, the Indianapolis 500 and the Le Mans 24 Hours race.
“As a driver, if you want to be considered the best, you need to be able to drive all kind of cars in all different series,” said the 35-year-old Alonso, who has twice won in Monaco and hasn’t competed at Le Mans. “After successful F1 championships, the opportunity to race in the Indy 500, the opportunity to race in Le Mans, that dream of the Triple Crown is something very attractive.”
McLaren said the Monaco GP will be the only Formula One race that Alonso will miss. The British-based team hasn’t announced who will replace Alonso for the most glitzy race on the F1 calendar, held a few hours before the Indy 500 on May 28 this year.
Alonso, who has 32 grand prix victories, didn’t earn a point in the first two races of the 2017 season — in Australia and China — and McLaren is struggling to be competitive once again.
“To be honest, if we are fighting for the world championship, we can’t afford to lose 25 points of possibilities. But we are not in that position, unfortunately,” Alonso told reporters on a conference call. “This possibility is a win-win situation for McLaren as a team.”
McLaren will be racing in the Indianapolis 500 for the first time in 38 years. Its entry will be a Dallara DW12 chassis, run by the Andretti Autosport team headed by Michael Andretti — a former IndyCar champion who raced in Formula One for McLaren in 1993.
Alonso will fly to Indianapolis immediately after the Spanish Grand Prix on May 14 to get in two weeks of IndyCar practice.
“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,” said Alonso, who plans to attend the April 23 IndyCar race at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama. “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 (354 kph). I realize I’ll be on a steep learning curve.”