McLaren and Fernando Alonso confirmed today that they will return to the Indianapolis 500 next year, for the 103rd Running of the iconic race. The Spaniard continues his pursuit of the Triple Crown of motorsports, which is only missing an Indianapolis 500 victory. He came close in his first attempt, motivating them to return for another shot.
The team ran Alonso in the 2017 race with Michael Andretti’s Honda-powered team. Earlier this year Alonso announced he will leave Formula 1 at the end of the season, but would not compete in IndyCar full-time next year.
If Alonso is able to drink the milk next May, he would become only the second driver ever to win the Triple Crown, as he has already won the Monaco Grand Prix, and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. To date, Graham Hill is the only person to achieve this, back in 1972. Alonso is excited to return to Indianapolis, providing these statements below.
“I’ve made clear for some time my desire to achieve the Triple Crown. I had an incredible experience at Indianapolis in 2017 and I knew in my heart of hearts I had to go back if the opportunity was there. I’m especially glad to be returning with McLaren. This was always my first choice if the team decided to do it, so I’m delighted they’ve decided to go ahead. It’s a tough race and we’ll be up against the best, so it will be a huge challenge. But we’re racers and that’s why we race. One of the things I’m looking forward to most is seeing the fans again, who are absolutely fantastic.”
McLaren CEO Zak Brown didn’t provide specifics, only that the team is hungry after such a promising run in 2017. “We are relishing our return to the Brickyard and this incredible race. McLaren has a long and fond relationship with the Indianapolis 500 and it’s a case of unfinished business for us with Fernando. No Indy 500 is a cakewalk, it’s a massive challenge. We have the utmost respect for the race and our competitors. So, we are under no illusions. But McLaren are racers first and foremost, as is Fernando. We’re going for it.”
Making his IndyCar debut in 2017, the two-time Formula 1 World Champion was impressive. He qualified 5th and led 27 laps before an engine issue ended his hopes just 21 laps from the finish. As good as he was on the track, he was even better off of it. He could not have been more kind and appreciative of the media coverage during the entire month, answering as many questions as he could, being genuinely honest and having fun.
The smiles were contagious, and there will likely be many more next May. While the engine supplier is not known, McLaren said they would provide more information in due course, including any team collaboration.