A two-time Formula 1 World Champion, Fernando Alonso will make second Indianapolis 500 start after being bumped last year
It doesn’t matter what form of motorsports a driver may come from, making the field of thirty-three cars for the Indianapolis 500 is something special. Winning it gets your name on the Borg-Warner Trophy forever. But for Fernando Alonso, a victory won’t be just another addition to his already lengthy resume. It would be career-defining.
Alonso has a task at hand, and it is not just landing in the winner’s circle for Arrow McLaren SP. He is attempting to become only the second driver ever to capture racing’s Triple Crown. It is an unofficial moniker given to the three most significant events in motorsports, the Indianapolis 500, the Monaco Grand Prix, and the 24-Hours of Le Mans.
The legendary Graham Hill was the first, and still, the only one to capture all three events. Alonso has Monaco and Le Mans trophies on his mantle, but he has twice failed to add the Borg-Warner. In 2017, he never finished with an engine failure. Last year it was disappointment and shock as he got bumped from the starting 33 in the Last Row Shootout by Kyle Kaiser. The Juncos Racing upstart would have a mechanical failure just past the halfway mark.
WILL NOT BE BACK FOR THE FORESEEABLE FUTURE
Fernando Alonso has to do it this time around because he is returning to Formula 1 after signing a two-year contract with Renault. The F1 schedule will prevent him from the week’s long preparation for the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.
“I know at least for two years I won’t be here,” Alonso said. “But look, that’s the way it is for the moment. I’m here, ready to enjoy the event. I’m planning to give my best, help the team as much as I can, and we’ll see in the future what are the possibilities.”
The 39-year old from Spain is part of a three-car entry for Arrow McLaren SP with rookies Pato O’Ward and Oliver Askew. After his first attempt ended just 21 laps from the finish and his next try bumped for what McLaren Racing management called “rookie mistakes” that got him bumped, he might also fit into that rookie category. But he is determined to put that behind him.
“It is going to be a big difference compared to last year that we were not prepared enough for the challenge. I’m reasonably confident that this is going to be a good event for us, but we take it step by step. We know there are a lot of things to do from our side. We will miss some experience. All three drivers, we’re rookies for the ‘500.’ We need to rely (on each other), and we need to work very close to the team and learn every day, make it step by step, concentrate a little bit more on the race this year.”
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