Fernando Alonso is taking the next step in his attempt to win the triple crown of motorsport.
Alonso announced Wednesday he will compete in the 2017 Indianapolis 500 in lieu of the Formula One Monaco Grand Prix, which also takes place on May 28. Clearly tired of his F1 power unit’s reliability and performance issues, Alonso will drive for Honda-powered Andretti Autosport in the Verizon IndyCar Series race.
The Spaniard has never raced on an oval, and admits that will present a unique challenge for him, according to NBC Sports.
“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 15 onward, hopefully clocking up a large number of miles every day, and I know how good the Andretti Autosport guys are,” Alonso said.
For Michael Andretti, head of Andretti Autosport, having a former F1 driver make their debut at Indy in one of his cars is familiar territory. Alexander Rossi won the race for Andretti last year on his first attempt.
“Fernando’s lack of experience on superspeedways is not of concern to me,” Andretti said, via NBC Sports. “I do believe that the Indianapolis 500 is one of the best places for a rookie to start because there is the opportunity for so much practice time on the track — and, as we have demonstrated, it can be won by a rookie.”
It’s no secret Alonso is interested in winning the triple crown — comprised of the Monaco Grand Prix, Indy 500 and 24 Hours of Le Mans — and his decision to run in the 500 marks the start of his quest to do so.
Many have speculated Alonso, now in the final year of his contract with McLaren, could walk away from F1 after 2017 to race in the FIA World Endurace Championship. Considering he already has two world championships to his name, and as many wins at Monaco, there isn’t much left for him to achieve in F1, making the jump to the WEC seem even more probable.
Thumbnail photo via Red Bull Content Pool