Two-time world champion Fernando Alonso says his desire to become only the second man to attain motor racing’s triple crown is behind his surprise decision to compete in this year’s Indianapolis 500.
Alonso plans to take time out of the Formula One season, skipping the Monaco Grand Prix, in order to make his debut in the showpiece race of the United States-based IndyCar Series on 28 May.
The Spaniard has already won the first leg of the triple crown, which comprises the Monaco Grand Prix, Indy 500 and Le Mans 24-hour race, and hopes to take another step towards emulating the late Graham Hill, the only man to win all three.
“It’s a tough challenge, but I’m up for it,” he said. “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.”
Alonso is set to represent McLaren-Honda–Andretti at the Indy 500 and poured cold water on suggestions he could quit F1 altogether by insisting he would only miss one date on this year’s calendar.
He is in the final season of his contract in a difficult second spell at McLaren, in which he has never finished a grand prix higher than fifth.
The Woking team are yet to announce his replacement for Monaco, but Britain’s Jenson Button, who remains an ambassador for the team, has been mooted.
Alonso added: “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 [354km/h].”