Fernando Alonso to contest 2017 Indy 500 with McLaren, Honda and Andretti Autosport
McLaren
Fernando Alonso
Posted By: Editor   |  12 Apr 2017   |  11:29 am GMT  |  407 comments

Fernando Alonso and McLaren will make a shock appearance at the 2017 Indianapolis 500, which means the Spanish driver will miss this year’s Monaco Grand Prix.

Alonso will drive a single entry McLaren at the 101st running of the Indy 500, that will be powered by Honda and run by the Andretti Autosport team, which is headed by Michael Andretti, who raced in F1 for the Woking-based team in 1993.

The car will be a standard IndyCar DW12 chassis powered by a Honda 2.2-litre twin-turbo V6 engine, limited by regulations to 12,000rpm. It will be Alonso’s first appearance at IndyCar’s headline event and also the first time he will race on a high-speed oval course.

Fernando Alonso

As the 2017 Indy 500 takes place on the same day as the Monaco Grand Prix, McLaren will replace Alonso on a one-off basis, but it is not yet clear who the team will field.

An official McLaren statement announcing the news explained that the team would “announce the identity of the driver who will race Fernando’s car at Monaco” in due course. Jenson Button is the British team’s reserve driver for the 2017 season.

Speaking as the news was announced, 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 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.

Fernando Alonso

“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.

“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.”

Alonso also added that his entry into the 2017 Indy 500 was the first part of his plan to become the second driver in history to win the ‘Triple Crown of Motorsport’ – the Monaco Grand, Indianapolis and the Le Mans 24 Hours. Graham Hill is the only driver to have won all three events.

WEC Le Mans

“I’ve won the Monaco Grand Prix twice, and it’s one of my ambitions to win the Triple Crown which has been achieved by only one driver in the history of motorsport: Graham Hill,” said Alonso. “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.”

McLaren has raced at Indianapolis in the past and won the 500-mile race in 1974 and 1976 with American driver Johnny Rutherford. A McLaren chassis that was entered by the Penske team also won the race in 1972.

Zak Brown, McLaren’s executive director, confirmed that Alonso’s car would be painted in the team’s historic orange livery, which it has brought back to F1 for 2017.

McLaren Indy 500

He said: “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.”

McLaren has faced a tough start to the 2017 season after two difficult years with Honda’s first attempts to crack F1’s V6 turbo hybrid power units. Brown explained that the team was “very committed” to its partnership with the Japanese manufacturer at last weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix, but Alonso has grown increasingly frustrated at the lack of progression that has been made in their attempts to move up the F1 grid.

The 35-year-old has expressed his desire to race on in F1 in 2018 although there have been repeated rumours that he could switch to sportscar racing in an attempt to win Le Mans.

McLaren

Even before the 2017 season got underway McLaren was explaining what it had to do to persuade Alonso to stick with the team beyond this year, which is the final year of the three-year deal he signed at the end of 2014.

Honda-powered cars have taken eight of the last ten Indy 500 victories and IndyCar rookie – and former F1 driver – Alexander Rossi, won the 2016 event. Could the next step of Alonso’s triple crown by on the cards on 28 May?

What do you make of the news that Alonso will race in the 2017 Indy 500? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below or head over to the JA on F1 Facebook page for more discussion.

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1
Teddy Williams

The 102nd Indianapolis 500 is set for Sunday, May 27, but first the lineup and starting grid, including the pole sitter, have to be determined. This is done on Pole Day, where the top nine drivers battle it out for the top position to lead off the race. (https://2018indianapolis500.com/)

2

Is Honda being paid to not give more power to the F1 engines?
A difference of power so great … is to distrust. We’ve been in this for how many years?

3

A Honda estará a ser paga para não dar mais potência aos motores F1?
Uma diferença de potencia tão grande… é de desconfiar. Andamos nisto há quantos anos?

4

The Indianapolis 500 is an automobile race held annually at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Speedway, https://indycar500.org/

5

3 way fight would be great…..lewis never showed true pace today, i would say ferrari and merc and very very close , bodes well for a interesting season, hope redbull can keep there pace alive

6

I think this whole business is a very good way of dealing with a ridiculous situation.
It’s not only Fernando who’s suffering due to Honda’s problems, for nearly three years now McLaren’s hard earned reputation over decades is biting the dust.

At present F1 apparently isn’t a sport for human beings it’s a market for certain cars.

If nothing else this manoeuvre by McLaren and FA will be fascinating and I hope Jenson and Stoffel in Monaco have a good time.

I don’t want it happening every week though!

7

Nothing to lose for participating in another series. Never says never in life.

8

Having paid a lot of money to watch my favourite driver at monaco finding it hard to swallow

9

Is it me, or am I missing the Big Cheery Smiles on the Honda folks?

10

Wow! Interesting news. Zak Brown has got to be the key man behind this. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure Fernando wanted to do it. But Zak would’ve been the one to make it happen, where others (Ron Dennis, even Eric Boullier) would’ve said no. It’s a risky move but, in a grim season, they’ve not got a lot to lose. If they are on the pace, it gives the McLaren brand, plus Alonso, a boost of positive publicity. If not, at least they tried. Also, if Liberty Media do aim to expand in North America, then competing in the Indy 500 gives McLaren a head start in attracting fans. Moreover, it does this by trading on their nearly-forgotten history Stateside; McLaren won Indy twice in the mid-1970s, which US race fans will appreciate. I think they also won CanAm back then (founder Bruce McLaren died testing the CanAm). So fair play to Brown and Alonso for giving it a go, and good luck to them!

11

Even though this only possible due to the current state of affairs at McLaren-Honda, it’s still an exciting development. I’m really looking forward to seeing how he does. It’s good publicity for McLaren-Honda, hopefully things will pick up and they become a real force in motorsport. If Fernando does exceptionally well, I have a feeling F1 and Indycar will ensure their biggest races (Monaco & the Indy 500) don’t clash in the future.

12

I have to say, I think this is very cool. I never thought the days of F1 drivers competing in other high-level disciplines were over. Hulkenberg’s Le Mans driver was refreshing, but this is right out of left field. It’s going to be fascinating to see how a cur rent top F1 driver compares to the rest of the American open wheel field. The Andretti-Honda package should be very competitive so I think Fernando will be very fast. Of course, there’s much, much more to winning the 500 than simply being fast but if anyone on the current grid can win it, it’s Alonso. Presumably he’s going to fly out straight after Barcelona and get as much track time as possible before the big day.

Speculation abounds as to who’s going to replace him. Really, Button looks like the most sensible option. Of their reserves, two (Turvey and Matsushita) won’t qualify for a Super Licence. Nyck de Vries would just barely, but it’s asking an awful lot of him considering he’s never actually driven the car (as far as I’m aware). Still, he’s an option if Button doesn’t fancy it and you could hardly blame him for that. Monaco might be McLaren and Honda’s best chance at a decent result for quite a while, though.

There’s a live list of drivers’ superlicence points here: http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/2017/01/23/superlicence-points-2017-full-list-of-all-314-points-scoring-drivers/

Reading through it, some very interesting names jump out – maybe Juan Pablo Montoya has unfinished business? Former McLaren Young Driver Oliver Rowland would qualify, too. Lando Norris is only three points off, so maybe they could swing that? If Button says no, their best bet might be Andre Lotterer, who has driven recent terrible F1 machinery and would be well suited to coaxing a struggling engine through to the finish!

13

Respekt for Fernando to try an other series and respect for Kimi to try WRC. It would be great to see others to take similar challenges.

14
Tornillo Amarillo

It’s Alexander Rossi who has opened this excitement, he did a really amazing job winning last year. Hats off.

To replace Alonso, I watched enough from Button, who are the options? Lando Norris I think is too young (17), who else?

15

James,

Is it possible this was the plan all along – “If we are uncompetitive then we will help you etc etc”- hence the JB role at McHonda? Surely this wasn’t a last minute arrangement?

16

The same crossed my mind, was always of the opinion that we would see JB racing this season.

17

he’ll put it in the wall….. lol

18

If Alonso wins, or scores points, does McLaren get the points in the Indy Constructors Championship? Be embarrassing if they score more points, podiums, poles or wins in a series they don’t even compete in.

Anyone else find it strange they run this on the same weekend as one of F1’s blue Ribbon events?

19

I honestly think it bad impression and example Alonso and McLaren setting for F1 . you are in season and you go to other series not giving first priority to F1 it shame other driver and team will also do the same .than I dont see F1 future if this kind of things happen .

20

I am old enough to remember when McLaren entering a car at Indianapolis, or Can-Am, etc., meant they were entering a car they built. Good luck to Fernando, and I really hope he does not leave there with an “Indy limp”, or worse.

21

It is quite clear that Fernando is not familiar with Charlie Kimball.

22

Very surprised by the news but I think it’s great. I for one will be watching. I just hope Alonso doesn’t take his McLaren Honda F1 bad luck with him. I see he is going to be the 13th F1 champion to race at the 500. Let’s hope he’s not superstitious!

23

Offtopic question out of curiosity – why it’s Vettel who is leading WDC – not Hamilton?

Based on FIA rules:
If two or more constructors or drivers finish the season with the same number of points, the higher place in the Championship (in either case) shall be awarded to:
a) The holder of the greatest number of first places.
b) If the number of first places is the same, the holder of the greatest number of second places.
c) If the number of second places is the same, the holder of the greatest number of third places and so on until a winner emerges.
d) If this procedure fails to produce a result, the FIA will nominate the winner according to such criteria as it thinks fit.

This d) sounds like it is a total nonsense – something similar to many of FIAs steward decisions during race.
Hamilton and Vettel are tied in every aspect except qualifying which somehow doesn’t play any role in defining order. I know some will say it’s because Vettel has won first but I don’t see such rule anywhere.

24

Agreed d) is nonsense !!!

a very simple rule instead would be “qualifying position at the last GP”
(or even have first a number of Pole positions or samed descending order used ofr race for all qualys)

in this instance, Ham would lead

25

If it is all tied at any point it goes to fastest average speed

26

This is awesome – I really hope he does well and I’ll be rooting for him. I think we can see the Indy 500 live on TV so I’ll be watching!

27

I agree with Avelino in that Alonso does not have anything to prove and I would add to gain by racing at Indy. I further that Alonso should be using all of time energy, focus, to persuade Honda and McLaren to improve their F1 package. Sideshows are somewhat not befitting of a double world champion. I wish him well.

28

If you are honest you already know the seasons over. Now they are just trying to keep him happy and allow him to get other things out of his system so that they can keep him next year. Plus side is we may get to see Jenson back. According to both drivers the car is as quick in corners as any other so it may actually be a track they could do well at

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