In a very surprising announcement Wednesday morning, McLaren announced that Fernando Alonso will enter the Indianapolis 500 in a entry run by Andretti Autosport. In order to compete at Indianapolis, Alonso will skip the Grand Prix of Monaco.
Alonso is overjoyed at the opportunity.
“I’m immensely excited that I’ll be racing in this year’s Indy 500, with McLaren, Honda and Andretti Autosport,” Alonso stated in a press release. “I’ve never raced an IndyCar car before, and neither have I ever driven on a superspeedway, 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 220 mph [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, practicing 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.”
Andretti Autosport owner Michael Andretti is proud of the team’s new partnership with McLaren.
“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,” Andretti stated. “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.”
Alonso electing to skip Monaco to race at Indianapolis leaves a seat open for a one-off at Monaco. McLaren has not announced who will replace Alonso in the principality, but states that it will be announced “in due course.”
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