Fernando Alonso wants to be the best in the world – it will take eight F1 world titles or the Triple Crown
McLaren
Posted By: Alex Kalinauckas  |  13 Apr 2017   |  4:42 pm GMT  |  51 comments

Fernando Alonso’s upcoming appearance in the 2017 Indianapolis 500 is attracting a lot of attention across motorsport and the double Formula 1 world champion believes that success in other series would prove he is the best driver in the world.

Alonso will skip the 2017 Monaco Grand Prix and will instead drive a Honda-powered McLaren-branded DW12 IndyCar in the Indy 500. It will be his first appearance at the legendary race and will be the first time he has taken part in a high-speed oval event.

Speaking in the pre-event press conference for the Bahrain Grand Prix, Alonso explained that to prove he is the best driver in the world he would either have to surpass Michael Schumacher’s record of seven F1 world titles, which he does not think is possible, or instead achieve success in other forms of motorsport.

Fernando Alonso

The ‘Triple Crown’ of motorsport – victory in the Monaco Grand Prix, Indy 500 and Le Mans 24 Hours – is something that Alonso is targeting. He has won at Monaco twice and has stated that he plans to compete at Le Mans after he has finished racing in F1, which he reiterated today remains his priority for 2018.

“He said: [To race the Indy 500 as a current F1 driver] is something that is not very common. In the past it was about the best drivers in the world, best cars, best races. Then it became more and more professional and everyone was dedicated to just one series. This year the possibility was there for us.

“If I want to be the best driver in the world I can either win eight F1 World titles, one more than Michael, which is impossible. Or I can win different races in different series in moments in my career and be a driver that can race and win in any car in any series.”

Fernando Alonso

Alonso joked that winning the world karting championship would set him apart from Graham Hill, who is so far the only driver to have won the Triple Crown after taking victory in the 1972 Le Mans race, but he also explained that his Indy appearance would not have been possible if Ron Dennis was still in charge at McLaren and not its current executive director, Zak Brown.

“Zak is a man that has a bigger vision than other team principals or bosses that I have had,” said Alonso. “He sees motorsport differently; he sees McLaren bigger and no longer concentrated on F1.

“He is a true racer, so it is great that McLaren had Zak come on board last year. Because Zak is American he was pushing for the Indy 500, and Eric [Boullier, McLaren’s racing director] who is French was pushing for Le Mans,” said Alonso.

Zak Brown

“The McLaren-Honda partnership, to be able run this in Indy 500, was very attractive this year.

The 2017 season has been tough for McLaren so far after Honda’s third attempt at a V6 turbo engine proved to be troublesome in winter testing. It has been suggested that allowing Alonso to race at Indianapolis and give him a shot at the Triple Crown is an attempt to keep him on-board for the rest of this year and happy ahead of contract negotiations for 2018.

But the Spanish driver insisted that his desire to race in other categories was not new.

He said: “It’s not that it came to our mind because this year we are struggling, or last year or the last two years.

WEC Le Mans

“This is something that I keep repeating from 2014, I remember being in Ferrari and talking about the possibility to Marco Mattiacci and people in Ferrari [about] even racing 24 Hours of Le Mans with a Ferrari 458. So it’s nothing new because of the performance of this year.”

Alonso’s rivals surprised he is missing Monaco

When asked for their thoughts on Alonso decision to miss the Monaco Grand Prix to race at Indianapolis, several of his rivals said they would not skip an F1 race to compete in another series.

“In my case it was completely different, I didn’t go away from F1 in the way that he does,” said Nico Hulkenberg, who won the 2015 Le Mans race while contracted to the Force India F1 team.

“I would never have done it if I had to miss a race for it, especially Monaco. I am a bit surprised, like everybody, about this situation.”

WEC Porsche Le Mans

Lewis Hamilton, who arrives in Bahrain sharing the 2017 world championship points lead with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, was another driver who dismissed the idea of missing a grand prix to race elsewhere. But the Mercedes driver did describe how he’d like to try another motorsport category in the future.

He said: “There was a time when drivers could do multiple series so it is pretty cool [for Alonso]. I wouldn’t want to miss out any races in F1; you need to do all the races.

“[But] I would like to do MotoGP, I’d love to ride a MotoGP bike – or a NASCAR race, like the Daytona 500.”

What have you made of Alonso’s Indy 500 switch? Would winning the Triple Crown make him the best driver in the modern world? Leave your thoughts in the comment section or head over to the JA on F1 Facebook page for more discussion.

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1

Graham Hill impressive performance. 50 years ago, when cross-over very common. Don’t forget just 20 years ago Jacques Villeneuve came very close to achieving it when he was second on the podium at LeMans.
Also, who defines the “crown” as just winning the one race (other than LeMans), ……would winning the Indy season title not be a bigger task than winning Indy, and likewise winning the F1 title a bigger task than winning Monaco???

2

I can see Zak coming up with this lame idea and all the yes men applauding. As for Alonso, he’s a racer and thought at the time it was a good idea to win something but I think as soon as he shows up to the brick yard he will have a ” what was I thinking ” moment.

3

Frankly, I find this news worrying. It seems honda and mclaren are desperate. Going through these extraordinary lengths to keep their number one happy is unnecessary and only serves to enhance Fernando’s overgrown ego. Then again, maybe its the best option for both parties. Alonso gets to cool his head in something more competitive and gives the fan/critics something to chew on while honda works through their numerous PU related issues. The real winner here is Zak Brown and his media savvy.

4

It’s great for the sport that he has the desire and opportunity to go to Indy; I hope hes not too optimistic about his chances of winning though.
Previous ers of F1 have seen drivers compete in different series and it feel a bit clicky now so good on them for giving it a go

5

I’ve nothing but respect for Alonso. You have to give him credit for grabbing this opportunity. He’s already won Monaco twice, and he will not win it this year even if he drives in it.. However, he will not better Graham Hill just yet. Hill won the Indy 500, the Le Mans 24 hours, and Monaco several times only beaten by Senna, although Alonso has won many more GPs than GH. Kudos to Alonso though. All the best to him.

6

I’m as excited as anyone to see Alonso at Indy, but I really think we should wait until he has some seat time in the car before starting to talk about winning the Indy 500 in his very first try, with no previous experience racing on ovals.

I don’t doubt that Alonso can do it, and I think he will do relatively well…but to win, there are soooo many things that he’ll need to master.

Alonso has never done a rolling start in a field 30+ deep. Alonso has never worked with a spotter. He’s never driven a trimmed out Indy car at 230mph on low fuel and worn tires, in traffic. He’s never raced in a series that doesn’t use Blue Flags for backmarkers – they fight to stay on the lead lap. He’s never done a Safetycar restart with people who actually know how to do a Safetycar restart (did anyone catch that gong show in China…country mile between the cars).

And then there’s the cars lol. Yes Honda has won the first two races of the year, and have shown huge improvement over last year – but Andretti Autosport, the team Alonso will race with, just had all 4 of their cars drop out of Long Beach with mechanical issues, some related to electrical (sound familiar for a Honda?). Not to mention he’s on what would be considered the third best team (if not worse) in Indycar, behind Genassi and Penske.

Fernando has to do a hell of a lot more than just show up to even start thinking about this 2nd jewel in the triple crown.

7
Torchwood Mobile

Good point, @Twitch, re. Backmarkers and blue flags.

He allowed a Ferarri WDC shot to slip through his fingers by not attempting to pass that other Russian racer, and just expecting him to get out of the way.

Best of luck to him.

8

awesome post Twitch! all great points. I’ve never missed watching the 500 since about 1960 and it’s produced some epic races. it’s a beast and there’s a long list of drivers who couldn’t tame it and lost their lives trying. all those challenges you list for driving Indy will be formidable hurdles even for the great Alonso. I wish him luck, but mostly a safe race. cheers!

9

Not to mention that every Contender and every Gomer is going to want to put a kick-a$& pass on Fernando, just to be able to say so, increasing the risk that Fernando is taken out in a wreck. See, e.g., Dennis Vitolo v Nigel Mansell.

10

He already is the best driver in the world alongside Vettel and Hamilton. Nothing to prove.

11

Having a hard time convincing myself how these three events together, as the Triple Crown, could possibly hold the luster they once did.

The 24 of LeMans, no question remains as one ultimate achievements in racing.

The Indy 500? Just a spec series now (is it still even considered ‘Open Wheel’?). Better mind your fuel mileage if you want to win *yawn*.

And Monaco? Sure, big time tradition and lots of glitz and glamour, but not a very good race. I can’t see how the new wider cars could do anything other than making it even harder to pass.

My Triple Crown would include an F1 Championship, a WEC Championship and a World Rally Championship.

12

What I see in that picture of Fernando, is that he has a sparkle in his eye (something that has been lacking). He needed something fresh and energizing. I hope he does well @ Indy. This may help him through another hard ‘character building’ F1 season.

13

He’s deserved a competitive car for years now.. we can see how frustrating it is, Jenson retired and Stoffel has spoken at each grand prix including the last one saying it is impossible to race with this car. So I guess at least he might have a competitive car for this race.

14

“best driver in the world”
Montoya can still win at LeMans. And too bad Villeneuve and Mario Andretti didn’t win Monaco, since then we’d have 4 drivers chasing the Triple Crown at LeMans.

15

I know Villeneuve won both the CART championship and the F1 crown. I think “our Nige” did that as well. Anyone know…is there anyone else who’s won both series?

16

Yes, Mario Andretti springs straight to mind (can’t think of any others off the top of my head).
Mario Won F1 in 78 for Lotus and won the championship in the US 4 times in USAC and CART. He won at Indy on at least one occasion I can think of and had a class win at LeMans in 95, sadly a second place overall and a few Monaco retirements, so no triple crown, but it hardly counts when balanced against the wins.
Hope that helps!

17

If McLaren is that big, why it bows down to Alonso ?
Sorry, we {McHonda} couldn’t provide you a good car, so we are sending you to Disneyland.
This Indy500 adventure has no gain for McLaren as the engine and car were not developed by them.

Alonso should pay more respect to Ronzo, bcs McLaren already won LeMans.
In 1985 McLaren won Le Mans with a GTS class car !!!
The Black Ueno Clinic and the Yellow Harrods car were fighting to the dire.
And McLaren took 4 places among the top 5.
That was a fantastic event since teh GTS class was full of legends: Ferrari F40, NSX, Corvette Callaway, Supra, Skyline, Porks, etc.
So if some day Alonso wins Le Mans, he will equal Massanori Sekyia xP

Happy Easter all !!!

18
Alex Kalinauckas

This is my last story for JAonF1 as I’m leaving to join Autosport magazine next week.

It’s been an absolute pleasure to write for this site for the last few years as you guys are such a knowledgable and passionate audience. Even though everyone has their opinions and thoughts on the sport and the drivers it’s great that you come here to have such a terrific debate – keep it up!

19
Ricciardo Aficionado

Do you still get a grey box when you come back here to join the debate?
You should use AK-47 as your moniker…
Thanks for the articles.

20

Good luck Alex in your new endeavour! Appreciate all your work on the site these last few years. 🙂

21

Hi Alex,

Best of luck to you old mate. While I am not a regular poster I do read the articles you and James put together as well as the discussion/debate which it creates. Your time here has added tremendously to what is already a great site! Many thanks.

22

Alex before you leave you should give us your prediction for the year. Who will be Champion, and who will be Constructors Champion?

23

Come on cheesypoof, could you possibly think of an easier question? 😉

24

thanks Alex for all the great stuff!

25

Good luck!

26

All the best in your new adventure

27

Thank you for all of your content!

28

Good luck, Alex, in your next adventure.

29

Thanks Alex and all best to you in your new job 🙂

30

JAoF1’s loss is Autosport’s gain. Thanks for the many interesting articles here and good luck for the future.

31
Torchwood Mobile

Alex, thank you for your services to F1, and this site; and best of luck in the future.

32

All the best Alex! Cheers🍻

33

Alex, I wish you all the best in the future endeavors.
I have to say, I’m sad to see you leaving here. I really enjoyed reading your contribution to this great site.

34

Congratulations Alex, thanks for all your efforts, will keep an eye out for your pieces in Autosport in the future.

35

Good luck in your new job Alex and thanks for all the articles you have penned here on JA on F1.

36

All the best Alex! Good luck to you.

37

Good luck mate

38

And thanks for giving us things to debate Alex👍🏻
Very good luck to you in your autosport adventure and all the best in the future.

39

Best wishes, I hope it is all you hope it will be.

40

@James.. how does JAonF1 run? Sales from the posters? Commercial partnerships? I do not see any adverts. Perhaps a “patreon” like account would be a good idea where you do not alienate fans with forced subscriptions, but open the website up to recieve support from those who would love to anyway.

41

Commercial partnerships, tenancy sponsorships

42

@Alex Kalinauckas – a few years ago I stopped reading autosport.com

If you have some connection with it when you join thier magazine, here is some feedback you can take along 🙂

Once they went behind the pay wall.. the free news section is nothing awe inspiring, So a few seasons ago they did this limited time offer of Free peek behind into the paid articles. I found the paid articles to be inferior in quality to a lot of other websites on f1, including this one (JAonF1). All in all, even though I had given it a thought.. once I saw the free peak into the paid articles, I became sure I was not interested.

I am assuming they have great success with thier business model with people who do not have as much time I as people like me to sieve through mutiple quality sites. But for people like us.. I had long lost the need for checking on thier website.

43

@ Nomad/Alex…. Firstly, Alex…best wishes in your new posting. I have enjoyed your scribbling and will miss it in the future. A Nomad…like you i was not happy with the ‘autosport’ paywall. Goodness me, everything is disappearing behind these paywalls and collectively it is becoming rather expensive, even the official FIA site was free for quite a while and that is now an additional cost too. Time to re assess…..

44

+1
Between JAonF1 and Joe Saward’s great web page there is everything you need 🙂

45

Good on him, it adds more interest for me. I hope Alonso does well. From what I’ve read, fortune smiled a little on Graham Hill for him to win both the Indy 500 and Le Mans, and I suspect Alonso will need a little of that too. If he does manage to win them both in the coming seasons it will be a terrific achievement. As a McLaren fan I hope he does both in an Orange car, and maybe his third world title too!

46

I’m struggling to imagine Lewis Hamilton rubbing and bumping with 40 Nascar guys at Daytona. Or autographing T-shirts out the back of the truck prior to the race.

47

Actually, if you ignore the fact that he would be ridiculously small in the car, Lewis character and attitude would fit in perfectly with the NASCAR crowd. Young Hamilton loves playing off the crowd and if you ever go to the track and watch NASCAR that is a massive job requirement. I remember the promotion with Tony Stewart for Mobil, he looked ridiculously small in the car, but that may play to his advantage. I remember when drivers were worried Danica Patrick’s weight was an unfair advantage compared to the other driver’s hunkiness!

48

Heddek, you didn’t see him giving hats to the crowd during the canceled practice session in China then?

49

Furthermore, the only car I’ve seen Lewis more excited about driving than Tony Stewart’s Cup car around Watkins Glen was when he got to drive Senna’s old McLaren. He was grinning from ear to ear after that seat swap (with Tony havingn experiences Indy cars before, I think Lewis walked away from that experience happier than Tony tbh).

50

Or autographing T-shirts..

Why would you say that – so far as I am aware he was the only driver who bothered to cross the track to throw signed hats into the crowd when Friday practice was called off at China.

51

Guys Guys… Settle down!! I’m a big fan of Lewis. I’m struggling to imagine him in a 3000 lb car with little down force in a restrictor plate race. He wouldn’t be content drafting for lap after lap but his competitive spirit would be charged up to the max.

My comments were not intended to be derogatory in the slightest. Quite the opposite. I just can’t imagine Lewis in the world of Nascar, he’s eons more advanced than the racing or the typical Nascar crowd. So now all the Americans will pile on me.

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