On May 28th 2017 McLaren will enter a single car in the 101st Indianapolis 500, powered by Honda. Andretti Autosport will enter the car. The team’s boss is Michael Andretti, a former IndyCar champion who raced in Formula 1 for McLaren alongside the legendary Ayrton Senna for a single season (1993). He is also the son of three-time IndyCar champion and one-time Formula 1 champion Mario Andretti. McLaren-Honda Formula 1 driver Fernando Alonso will drive the McLaren-Honda-Andretti entry (a Dallara DW12 chassis). The Spaniard started 275 Grands Prix, won 32 of those races, became Formula 1 world champion twice, and was Formula 1 runner-up three times.
Its engine will be a Honda 2.2-litre twin-turbo V6, limited by IndyCar regulations to 12,000rpm.
Since the Indianapolis 500 will take place on May 28th, the same day as the Monaco Grand Prix, Fernando will not race at Monaco this year. The Indianapolis 500 will be the only 2017 IndyCar race in which Fernando will compete, however, and the Monaco Grand Prix will therefore be the only 2017 Formula 1 race in which he will not compete.
In due course McLaren-Honda will announce the identity of the driver who will race Fernando’s car at Monaco.
Fernando Alonso said:
“I’m immensely excited that I’ll be racing in this year’s Indy 500, with McLaren, Honda and Andretti Autosport.
“The Indy 500 is one of the most famous races on the global motorsport calendar, rivalled only by the Le Mans 24 Hours and the Monaco Grand Prix [which Fernando has won twice, one of those victories at the wheel of a McLaren (in 2007)], and it’s of course a regret of mine that I won’t be able to race at Monaco this year. But Monaco will be the only 2017 Grand Prix I’ll be missing. I’ll be back in the cockpit of the McLaren-Honda MCL32 for the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal in early June.
“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. It’s clear that great precision is required to race in close proximity with other cars on the far side of 354km/h. I realise I’ll be on a steep learning curve. But I’ll be flying to Indianapolis from Barcelona immediately after the Spanish Grand Prix. I will practice with our McLaren-Honda-Andretti car at Indy from May 15th onwards, hopefully clocking up a large number of miles every day, and I know how good the Andretti Autosport guys are. I’ll be proud to race with them, and I intend to mine their knowledge and expertise for as much info as I possibly can.
“I’ve won the Monaco Grand Prix twice, and it’s one of my ambitions to win the Triple Crown [the Monaco Grand Prix, the Indianapolis 500 and the Le Mans 24 Hours], 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.”
— Fernando Alonso (@alo_oficial) 12 April 2017
Zak Brown (Executive Director, McLaren Technology Group) said:
“As an American, albeit one who fell in love with Formula 1 at a very young age, I’ve always regarded the Indy 500 as a fantastic motor race.
“For that reason I’m particularly delighted to have been able to bring McLaren back to Indianapolis in my very first year as McLaren’s Executive Director. Michael [Andretti] is an old friend of mine, and a man I respect enormously, and his Andretti Autosport organisation is one of the best in the business.
“Equally, this project wouldn’t have been possible without Honda’s support and encouragement”
“And our car – the McLaren-Honda-Andretti – will be in the papaya orange livery. Our founder Bruce McLaren made it famous, while Johnny Rutherford drove McLaren IndyCars to Indy 500 victory in both 1974 and 1976.
“Could Fernando win this year’s Indy 500? Well, I wouldn’t be so silly as to make any such rash prediction, but I expect him to be in the mix. Put it this way: the team he’ll be racing for won the race last year, using the same Honda engine, and he’s the best racing driver in the world. That’s quite a compelling combination. So, yes, as I say, he’ll be in the mix.
“OK, equally, he’ll have his work cut out to acclimatise to running at super-speedway velocities. But ultimately it’s quality that counts in all forms of motorsport, and Fernando is very definitely quality. He’s ballsy and brave too. Also, the differences between Formula 1 cars and IndyCars are less now than they were in the past. Formula 1 cars weigh about the same as IndyCars these days – just north of 700kg. F1 cars actually develop more power than IndyCar cars do, whereas it used to be the other way around in the past.
“I’ll be at Indy to see McLaren’s return to the Brickyard, and I’ll be a happy man on that day. But I’ll be in constant contact with Eric [Boullier], who’ll be running McLaren-Honda’s Formula 1 operation at Monaco as per usual.”
Michael Andretti (Chief Executive Officer, Andretti Autosport) said:
“It’s a great honour to partner with McLaren for the 101st running of the Indianapolis 500 and to bring Fernando into one of our Andretti Autosport Hondas. I want to thank Zak [Brown], Honda and McLaren for this tremendous opportunity. We’ve been working very closely in the planning of this new partnership. I believe we’ve laid the foundation for a successful month of May. We’re looking forward to giving Fernando an effort in reaching one of his biggest career goals of winning the Indy 500.
Andretti: “Fernando’s lack of experience on super-speedways is not of concern to me”
“I do believe that the Indianapolis 500 is one of the best places for a rookie to start. That is because there is the opportunity for so much practice time on the track – and a rookie can win. Fernando is a great talent and I have full confidence that he will represent very strongly for McLaren, Honda and Andretti Autosport.
“Fernando’s addition to the team takes our stable of entries to six, working in a cooperative effort. This sharing of experience and knowledge is what makes Andretti Autosport stand out and gives us that extra competitive edge.”
— Mercedes-AMG F1 (@MercedesAMGF1) 12 April 2017
I’m buying my ticket now. https://t.co/a62AtUUHTs
— Toby Moody (@TobyMoody) 12 April 2017