BBC TopGear
BBC TopGear
Advertisement feature
View the latest news

Alonso will race at Indy 500, and this is his car

Fernando ditches Monaco GP and confirms he’s after motorsport’s Triple Crown. Game on

Published: 03 May 2017

McLaren's lead Formula 1 driver, Fernando Alonso, will miss the Monaco Grand Prix. He’s swerving the most glamorous race on the F1 calendar in order to compete at the Indy 500 in the US. Jenson Button will return to the McLaren F1 team to fill his old teammate's seat in Monte Carlo, while Alonso will clamber into the seat of the car you see above.

Alonso’s move is interesting for two reasons. One, it suggests McLaren will let the Spaniard chase other passions to compensate for the disappointing performance of the cars he’s driven since returning to the team in 2015.

Advertisement - Page continues below

Two, it proves he’s targeted being only the second ever driver to complete motorsport’s Triple Crown. That consists of the Monaco Grand Prix (which Alonso’s won twice), the Le Mans 24 Hours and Indy 500.

Over to Fernando himself. “It’s one of my ambitions to win the Triple Crown, which has been achieved by only one driver in the history of motorsport: Graham Hill. It’s a tough challenge, but I’m up for it. 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.”

“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.”

Yikes. The IndyCar he’s racing will, like his regular company car, be a Honda-powered McLaren, campaigned by Andretti Autosport. And like his Grand Prix car, it uses a turbocharged V6 engine. Its resplendently orange colour scheme harks back to McLaren's old IndyCar racers, though its collection of winglets is far more impressive.

Advertisement - Page continues below

Older readers will note McLaren's form in the sport. Bruce McLaren’s race team claimed two Indy 500 victories in the 1970s. Bruce himself was an Indy 500 victory short of claiming the Triple Crown as a driver, too, having won at Le Mans and Monaco.

All told, just 17 drivers have competed at all three events, with Graham Hill being the first – and thus far only – driver to complete the Triple Crown, when he won Le Mans in 1972. Reckon Alonso’s up to joining him on a list of two?

Top Gear

Get all the latest news, reviews and exclusives, direct to your inbox.

More from Top Gear

See more on Motorsport

Subscribe to the Top Gear Newsletter

Get all the latest news, reviews and exclusives, direct to your inbox.

By clicking subscribe, you agree to receive news, promotions and offers by email from Top Gear and BBC Studios. Your information will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

BBC TopGear

Try BBC Top Gear Magazine