Two time World Champion Fernando Alonso is to drive in this year’s Indy 500 it is being reported today.
The surprise decision will mean the Spainard will miss the Monaco Grand Prix as both races are being held on 28th of May. The announcement also throws more doubt into Alonso’s future at McLaren with his contract expiring at the end of the season.
There is a lot of surprise around as well that McLaren is allowing it’s prize asset to take part on the same weekend as F1’s crown jewel. One thought process is that by keeping Alonso happy it will allow time for the teams fortunes to improve and possibly see him stay at the Woking side beyond the end of the year.
The deal has come about after a few weeks of secret talks between Alonso, McLaren and engine supplier Honda. Honda is one of Indy Cars engine suppliers and the move will be a coup for the American based series.
It will be the first time that a driver has driven at both Indy and also at least one F1 race in the same season since Nigel Mansell did so in 1994. Vincenzo Sospiri raced in the 1997 Indy 500 after failing to qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix for the doomed Lola team.
McLaren itself has history at the brickyard having twice won the event in 1974 and 1976 with Johnny Rutherford while a Penske run McLaren chassis won in 1972 with Mark Donohue at the wheel.
This is the latest example of full time F1 drivers taking on extra racing. Nico Hulkenburg took part, and won, the Le Mans 24 hours with Porsche in 2015 while Kimi Raikkonen has been known to indulge in snowmobile racing in his native Finland, much to Ferrari’s dismay.
The Spainard will race for Andretti Honda Motorsport in a car rebranded to take in the McLaren name. Its also unknown who would replace him for Monaco in the McLaren with many young drivers on the books at McLaren and also Jenson Button as reserve driver.
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