Fernando Alonso has left McLaren-Honda F1 for the week to race in Indy 500
Shortly before the third Grand Prix of the 2017 F1 season in Bahrain, the Spaniard and the McLaren-Honda team revealed that he would not be in place for the Monaco Grand Prix.
Instead of driving the struggling McLaren around the famous Monaco circuit, he would instead head to Indianapolis to race a McLaren-entered, Honda-powered Andretti Autosport IndyCar in the 500-mile race.
Why is Fernando Alonso racing in Indy 500?
The idea that Alonso might jump across the pond mid-season for the race started as a joke at a team dinner between driver and team boss Zak Brown.
However, as it quickly became clear that McLaren had no chance of challenging for a win or perhaps even points in Monaco – which clashes most year with Indy 500 – the joke turned into a reality.
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Why did McLaren let Fernando Alonso enter Indy 500?
Brown had already made it clear that he wanted to take McLaren around the world at the opportunity seemed to good to turn down.
He did though admit that he would not have allowed Alonso to go if the car had not been in such a poor state for the 2017 season.
There is also the problem of Alonso’s McLaren contract, which expires at the end of the season.
Fernando Alonso has been frustrated by the lack of power and reliability from the McLaren-Honda
Zak Brown seemed happy to get Fernando Alonso into an Indy 500 car
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He has repeatedly stated he will make his decision in the summer – but at present it seems like where not whether he will go with the Honda engine hamstringing McLaren in a major way.
But if the team can offer him the chance to race in some different series and chase big prizes all over the globe, then he might be tempted to stay.
Why does Fernando Alonso want to race in Indy 500?
Quite apart from the prize money – winners generally receive in the region of £2million – and the prestige, Alonso is trying to build his legacy.
At the age of 35, the two-time F1 world champion has admitted that equally or beating Michael Schumacher’s record of seven titles might be out of his reach.
Instead, he wants to become only the second man to win motor racing’s ‘Triple Crown’.
Alonso has already won the first leg, the Monaco GP, and could now win the second in Indianapolis.
If he does, he will simply need to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans to match the achievement of Graham Hill, currently alone in having won all three.