Fernando Alonso will make his Indianapolis 500 debut this year in a Honda-powered McLaren, it has been announced in a surprise statement.
The Spaniard will become the latest F1 world champion to contest America’s classic single-seater race, where McLaren makes a return after a 38-year hiatus.
While the car will run in McLaren colours, it will be operationally run by Andretti Autosport. Honda’s 2.2-litre-twin turbo engine will sit at the back of the Dallara DW12.
Due to clashing commitments, Alonso will miss the Monaco Grand Prix and will be replaced by another driver in due course of time.
McLaren, however, has assured that Alonso’s Indy 500 appearance will be one-off and he will return to complete the rest of the F1 season.
“I’m immensely excited that I’ll be racing in this year’s Indy 500, with McLaren, Honda and Andretti Autosport,” he said.
“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 [which Fernando has won twice, one of those victories at the wheel of a McLaren (in 2007)], and it’s of course a regret of mine that I won’t be able to race at Monaco this year.
“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.
McLaren’s executive director Zak Brown added “As an American, albeit one who fell in love with Formula 1 at a very young age, I’ve always regarded the Indy 500 as a fantastic motor race.
“For that reason I’m particularly delighted to have been able to bring McLaren back to Indianapolis in my very first year as McLaren’s Executive Director. Michael [Andretti] is an old friend of mine, and a man I respect enormously, and his Andretti Autosport organisation is one of the best in the business.
by Rachit Thukral