INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — He’s back.
Formula 1 driver Fernando Alonso announced plans to return for the Indianapolis 500 in 2019.
Alonso raced in the 2017 edition of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing, an addition that added some intrigue to the 101st Running. It marked the return of McLaren to the Indy 500 after a nearly four-decade absence. Andretti Autosport ran Alonso’s car jointly with McLaren.
Alonso qualified fifth in 2017 and skipped Monaco to race in the Indy 500. He ran a strong race but finished 24th thanks to a mechanical issue that ended his day. He led 27 laps.
McLaren said Saturday that Alonso will try to become only the second driver to secure racing’s unofficial Triple Crown: wins in the Monaco Formula 1 Grand Prix, the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Indianapolis 500. The feat was achieved by Graham Hill in 1972 with his win at Le Mans.
McLaren has won the Indy 500 three times: once in 1972 with a private entry and twice as a works entry with Johnny Rutherford in 1974 and 1976. McLaren said it will run its own team for the 2019 Indy 500.
McLaren CEO Zak Brown said Alonso has “unfinished business” with the Indianapolis 500 and described the race as a “massive challenge.”
“We have the utmost respect for the race and our competitors,” Brown said. “So, we are under no illusions. But McLaren are racers first and foremost, as is Fernando. We’re going for it.”
Alonso, who announced his retirement from F1 earlier this year, released a statement about his return to Indy:
“I’ve made clear for some time my desire to achieve the Triple Crown. I had an incredible experience at Indianapolis in 2017 and I knew in my heart of hearts I had to go back if the opportunity was there. I’m especially glad to be returning with McLaren. This was always my first choice if the team decided to do it, so I’m delighted they’ve decided to go ahead. It’s a tough race and we’ll be up against the best, so it will be a huge challenge. But we’re racers and that’s why we race. One of the things I’m looking forward to most is seeing the fans again, who are absolutely fantastic.”