Alonso Indy 500: McLaren opens door for more IndyCar races in future

Fernando Alonso's 2017 Indianapolis 500 programme opens the door for McLaren to contest the race, or even other IndyCar events, again in the future, major shareholder Mansour Ojjeh says

Alonso Indy 500: McLaren opens door for more IndyCar races in future

The two-time Formula 1 world champion's plan to miss the Monaco Grand Prix and make his Indy 500 debut next month in a McLaren-entered car run by Honda squad Andretti Autosport was announced on Wednesday.

McLaren won the Indy 500 three times in the 1970s, initially with Mark Donohue in a Penske-run chassis, then as a team in '74 and '76 with Johnny Rutherford.

Its participation in the race finished later that decade, but Ojjeh says returning with Alonso could pave the way for a more regular presence, and even in the IndyCar championship itself, as part of the broader McLaren Technology Group's growth.

"I've attended the Indy 500, and I came away hugely impressed by the scope and scale of this enormous and well-organised event, and the sheer enthusiasm of the hundreds of thousands of fans in attendance," Ojjeh, MTG executive committee principal, said.

"More than 30 years [after McLaren's Indy 500 wins], I'm pleased and proud that we're about to embark on a new IndyCar era for McLaren, this time with Andretti Autosport and Honda.

"The Indy 500 is the only IndyCar race we'll be entering this year, but we may possibly repeat that in years to come and it's just possible that we may even run a full-works McLaren IndyCar operation at some point in the future. We'll see.

"Equally, we may potentially enter the Le Mans 24 Hours again some time - we won it outright in 1995 with our iconic McLaren F1 GTR - but to be clear we have absolutely no definite plans to do so at this stage."

Andretti has four Indy 500 victories to its name, including two in the last three years with Ryan Hunter-Reay in 2014 and rookie Alexander Rossi last May.

McLaren believes Alonso will be "in the mix" next month despite his lack of experience, and IndyCar CEO Mark Miles says its return is a boon for his series' blue-ribband event.

"The entire IndyCar community - competitors, fans, media, everyone - are delighted and excited at the prospect of a driver as brilliant as Fernando making his debut in our series," he said.

"Even better, he'll be making that debut in the greatest race of our year: the world-famous Indy 500.

"And which car will Fernando be driving this year? That's right: a Honda-powered Andretti Autosport car - the same package that won last year's race.

"Could history repeat itself? Stranger things have happened.

"But, whether or not Fernando wins this year, I'm thrilled that the name of McLaren will be returning to Indianapolis."

shares
comments
Fernando Alonso Indy 500 bid part of desire to win 'triple crown'
Previous article

Fernando Alonso Indy 500 bid part of desire to win 'triple crown'

Next article

How Fernando Alonso's Indy 500 deal happened

How Fernando Alonso's Indy 500 deal happened
Load comments
Ranking the top 10 IndyCar drivers of 2021 Plus

Ranking the top 10 IndyCar drivers of 2021

In an enthralling 2021 IndyCar campaign, the series bounced back from its COVID-19 truncated year prior and Alex Palou defeated both the established order and his fellow young guns to clinch a maiden title. It capped a remarkable season with plenty of standout performers

IndyCar
Nov 21, 2021
How F1's other IndyCar exile finally unlocked his potential Plus

How F1's other IndyCar exile finally unlocked his potential

Romain Grosjean's swashbuckling rookie year in IndyCar captured the imagination of many in 2021. But another ex-Formula 1 driver whose potential was masked by five years of toil in, at best, middling machinery also enjoyed a breakout year in 2021 - winning twice and finishing sixth in points. Here's how Marcus Ericsson finally delivered on his promise

IndyCar
Nov 16, 2021
How Ganassi's relentless new champion outfoxed IndyCar's best Plus

How Ganassi's relentless new champion outfoxed IndyCar's best

IndyCar sophomore Alex Palou stunned by overcoming team-mate Scott Dixon and the rest of a white-hot field in 2021. He was consistently fast and crucially showed a level head, rebounding well from setbacks to put himself in a near unassailable position entering the final round

IndyCar
Nov 4, 2021
Have Harvey and RLL formed IndyCar’s next winning match-up? Plus

Have Harvey and RLL formed IndyCar’s next winning match-up?

Despite appearing to have an IndyCar job for life with Meyer Shank Racing, Jack Harvey’s departure and move to Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing sparked plenty of debate. However, Harvey's and RLL's combined strengths could prove to be a winning combination - if they get the balance right

IndyCar
Oct 17, 2021
Remembering Dan Wheldon and his last and most amazing IndyCar win Plus

Remembering Dan Wheldon and his last and most amazing IndyCar win

Saturday 16 October marks the 10th anniversary of Dan Wheldon’s death. David Malsher-Lopez pays tribute, then asks Wheldon’s race engineer from 2011, Todd Malloy, to recall that magical second victory at the Indianapolis 500

IndyCar
Oct 16, 2021
Why Kyle Kirkwood is America's new IndyCar ace-in-waiting Plus

Why Kyle Kirkwood is America's new IndyCar ace-in-waiting

Kyle Kirkwood, the record-setting junior formula driver, sealed the Indy Lights championship last weekend. But despite an absurdly strong junior career and scholarship money, his next move is far from clear

IndyCar
Oct 6, 2021
Why IndyCar title glory is just the start for Ganassi's new star Plus

Why IndyCar title glory is just the start for Ganassi's new star

Newly-crowned IndyCar champion Alex Palou has been lauded as a complete driver and veteran-like in only his second season. The 24-year-old is still in the early days of his career, but the parallels are there for all to see with his six-time champion Chip Ganassi Racing team-mate who has been CGR's team leader since 2014

IndyCar
Sep 28, 2021
Why Grosjean's oval commitment shows he's serious about IndyCar Plus

Why Grosjean's oval commitment shows he's serious about IndyCar

One of motorsport’s worst-kept secrets is now out in the open, and Romain Grosjean has been confirmed as an Andretti Autosport IndyCar driver in 2022. It marks a remarkable turnaround after the abrupt end to his Formula 1 career, and is a firm indication of his commitment to challenge for the IndyCar Series title  

IndyCar
Sep 24, 2021