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In a decision that has taken the racing world by surprise, Fernando Alonso announced that he will, in fact, be competing in the Indianapolis 500 in a McLaren-entered car on May 28 this year. This also means that the racer will be giving the illustrious Formula 1's Monaco Grand Prix a total miss.
"I'm immensely excited that I'll be racing in this year's Indy 500, with McLaren, Honda and Andretti Autosport," said Alonso. The Indy 500 is known to be one of the trickiest courses in the world and many feel that Alonso may be biting off more than he can chew, as he has not had enough time to practice sufficiently. "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, 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, and I'll be back in the cockpit of the McLaren-Honda MCL32 for the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal in early June," he continued. It will be Alonso's first attempt on IndyCar's most famous race and his first experience of oval racing.
When asked to comment, Mercedes racer and three-time F1 champion Lewis Hamilton said, "I think it will be a very exciting challenge for him, to see how strong he can fare against those who have all that experience." Others, like Christian Horner, Red Bull Racing’s team chief were less discreet. "McLaren executive director Zak Brown has come up with this idea to send Alonso to Indianapolis, but he must be barking mad," were his exact words to be precise.
Many industry insiders believe that this move might have a lot to do with the fact that Alonso's contract with McLaren ends soon and the company is trying hard to keep their star racer happy.