Alonso to race in Indy 500 with McLaren in 2019
The Monaco Grand Prix. The Le Mans 24 Hours. The Indianapolis 500. Fernando Alonso has checked off the first two, and now he’s announced a fresh bid to win the third and become just the second driver in history to win the fabled Triple Crown.
Alonso, who will leave F1 at the end of the season, was victorious at Le Mans earlier this year, having the season before fallen short in his attempt to win at Indy, despite leading for several periods. But next May the 37-year-old Spaniard will return to the famous oval and bid to emulate Graham Hill’s feat – and he’ll do it in a McLaren-run car.
“I’ve made clear for some time my desire to achieve the Triple Crown," said Alonso. "I had an incredible experience at Indianapolis in 2017 and I knew in my heart of hearts I had to go back if the opportunity was there.
“I’m especially glad to be returning with McLaren. This was always my first choice if the team decided to do it, so I’m delighted they’ve decided to go ahead. It’s a tough race and we’ll be up against the best, so it will be a huge challenge. But we’re racers and that’s why we race. One of the things I’m looking forward to most is seeing the fans again, who are absolutely fantastic.”
McLaren have won the Indy 500 three times: once in 1972 supplying a private entry and twice as a works entry, in 1974 and 1976, with Johnny Rutherford. So how realistic is a fourth win?
Zak Brown, CEO of McLaren Racing, acknowledges it will be no ‘cakewalk’:
“We are relishing our return to the Brickyard and this incredible race. McLaren has a long and fond relationship with the Indianapolis 500 and it’s a case of unfinished business for us with Fernando.
“No Indy 500 is a cakewalk, it’s a massive challenge. We have the utmost respect for the race and our competitors. So, we are under no illusions. But McLaren are racers first and foremost, as is Fernando. We’re going for it.”
Alonso’s news was announced shortly after the Spaniard had qualified a disappointing 18th in Brazil – scene of his two world championship coronations in 2005 and 2006. He’ll be hoping for a much better grid slot come Indianapolis in May…