Alonso to race 2017 Indy 500

Fernando Alonso, Australian GP 2017

Fernando Alonso, Australian GP 2017 

 © RV Press

Fernando Alonso will race in the 2017 Indy 500 in a McLaren-entered car - missing the Monaco Grand Prix, which falls on the same day.

The car, which will be Honda powered will be run by Andretti Autosport.

Fernando Alonso said, "I'm immensely excited that I'll be racing in this year's Indy 500, with McLaren, Honda and Andretti Autosport."

"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. 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."

"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. 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 220mph [354km/h]. 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 15th onwards, hopefully clocking up a large number of miles every day, and 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."

"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."

Zak Brown (Executive Director, McLaren Technology Group) said:

Zak Brown, McLaren's Executive Director said, "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. Michael is a winner - indeed his team won the Indy 500 last year with Alexander Rossi, who will be one of Fernando's team-mates at Indy next month‚ and I couldn't be happier that Fernando will be making his IndyCar debut in one of Michael's cars."

"Equally, this project wouldn't have been possible without Honda's support and encouragement. And our car - the McLaren-Honda-Andretti - will be decked out in the papaya orange livery made famous by our founder Bruce McLaren, and in which Johnny Rutherford drove McLaren IndyCars to Indy 500 victory in both 1974 and 1976."

"Could Fernando win this year's Indy 500? Well, I wouldn't be so silly as to make any such rash prediction, but I expect him to be in the mix. Put it this way: the team he'll be racing for won the race last year, using the same Honda engine, and he's the best racing driver in the world. That's quite a compelling combination. So, yes, as I say, he'll be in the mix. "OK, equally, he'll have his work cut out to acclimatise to running at super-speedway velocities, but ultimately it's quality that counts in all forms of motorsport, and Fernando is very definitely quality. He's ballsy and brave too. Also, the differences between Formula 1 cars and IndyCars are less marked now than they were in the past. Formula 1 cars weigh about the same as IndyCars these days - just north of 700kg [1543lb] - and Formula 1 cars actually develop more power than IndyCar cars do, whereas it used to be the other way around in the past."

"I'll be at Indy to see McLaren's return to the Brickyard, and I'll be a happy man on that day. But I'll be in constant contact with Eric [Boullier], who'll be running McLaren-Honda's Formula 1 operation at Monaco as per usual."

Michael Andretti said, "It's a great honour to partner with McLaren for the 101st running of the Indianapolis 500 and to bring Fernando into one of our Andretti Autosport Hondas. I want to thank Zak [Brown], Honda and McLaren for this tremendous opportunity. We've been working very closely in the planning of this new partnership and I believe we've laid the foundation for a successful month of May. We're looking forward to giving Fernando an effort in reaching one of his biggest career goals of winning the Indy 500."

"Fernando's lack of experience on super-speedways is not of concern to me. 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. Fernando is a great talent and I have full confidence that he will represent very strongly for McLaren, Honda and Andretti Autosport."

"Fernando's addition to the team takes our stable of entries to six, working in a cooperative effort. This sharing of experience and knowledge is what makes Andretti Autosport stand out and gives us that extra competitive edge."

Honda's Katsuhide Moriyama said, "We are delighted that we are able to race in the historical Indy 500 as McLaren-Honda-Andretti in order to make Fernando Alonso's dream come true."

"We are also honoured that Honda can become a part of this ambitious project as an engine supplier. We are grateful to Mr. Andretti who willingly accepted our offer and now shares this dream with us. Fernando is one of the best racing drivers in the world, and I strongly believe that he will put on a great performance in one of the world's most historical motor races, the Indy 500."

"Honda will provide our maximum support to him and the team, as well as the other Honda drivers competing. We can't wait to see him racing on the legendary Indianapolis track.

McLaren has won the Indy 500 twice as a team, in 1974 and 1976 with Johnny Rutherford, while a Penske-run McLaren chassis won in 1972 with Mark Donohue.

McLaren will announce the identity of Alonso's replacement at Monaco shortly.

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