INDIANAPOLIS (WDTN) – The Indy 500 always attracts worldwide attention, but this year especially, because of the presence of one driver: two-time Formula One World Champion Fernando Alonso, who says he’s looking ahead to making racing history while putting last year in the rearview mirror.
In his first two attempts at the Indy 500, Fernando Alonso experienced the full range of emotion that the Brickyard can provide. In 2017 running with Andretti Autosport, Alonso was voted Rookie of the Year after leading 27 laps. But his 2019 return was a disaster, as the two-time World Champion failed to make the race, bumped by a team with a fraction of McLaren’s budget.
After showing early speed this year, a crash in practice set him back, and he will start 26th on Sunday. But as Fernando told 2 NEWS Anchor Mark Allan in a pre-COVID interview, he is up for the challenge that Indy brings.
“This is a different moment now for us, McLaren racing not together with Andretti anymore. We have a bigger challenge this time on the technical side but it could be more reward if we do it right, so, happy to be here,” he said.
The great Graham Hill is the only driver in history to accomplish racing’s Triple Crown, winning the Indy 500, Monaco, and Le Mans. If Fernando Alonso can win the Indy 500 he would become only the second ever and he said he believes he’s already done Hill one better.
“That’s the only motivation, achieving the Triple Crown, and after winning Daytona 24 Hour it could be more than Triple now. So to be the first man in history doing something is very appealing,” Alonso said.
But this could be his last chance. Alonso will return to Formula 1 for the next two years, making his next possible shot at the 500 in 2023 at age 41. So helping him make the most of this chance is McLaren team principal Gil Deferran, who won the 500 in 2003.
“With a guy like that, you’re not going to teach him how to drive, that’s for sure. He’s one of the greatest ever but two heads always think a little better than one,” Deferran said.
No matter how the race on Sunday goes, Fernando Alonso’s place in history is secure and he will continue to add new chapters at race tracks all around the world. But even a man who has raced everywhere says there’s nowhere like Indy.
“One, it’s the fastest race in the world by the speeds and how the race evolves, and there’s something magic about this place. The adrenaline of oval racing, how unpredictable is the race until the last couple of laps, all those ingredients make the race very special. So Indy 500, of all the races I did in my life, is still probably the favorite one,” Alonso said.
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