McLaren has announced Fernando Alonso will be racing at the 101st Indianapolis 500 instead of the Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix.
McLaren will be making an entry into the Indy 500 for the first time in 38 years with a single car for Andretti Autosport.
The Spaniard will have team-mates in the shape of former F1 stars Alexander Rossi and Takuma Sato, former Indy500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay and another member of the Andretti dynasty, Marco Andretti.
“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,” Alonso said.
“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.”
Rossi was the surprise winner of the event on his debut in the series in 2016, with Alonso also expressing his interest in other motorsport series, this move almost comes as no surprise.
“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.
Having never raced an Indycar or on a speedway before, Alonso will be up for a challenge against such established drivers in the series who already have so much experience at the brickyard.
“I realise I’ll be on a steep learning curve, but I’ll be flying to Indianapolis from Barcelona immediately after the Spanish Grand Prix, practising our McLaren-Honda-Andretti car at Indy from May 15, hopefully clocking up a large number of miles every day.
“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.
Alonso will be the first former F1 champion to take on the famous event since Nigel Mansell in 1993, who nearly won the race on his first attempt.