Fernando Alonso has been a busy bee this week fielding questions about McLaren’s announcement that he would be participating in this year’s Indy 500 and missing the Monaco Grand Prix. The Spaniard has set his eyes on competing the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Indy 500 and would like to win both races to add to his Formula 1 championship. That hasn’t been done since Graham Hill and these days, the thought of an F1 driver being allowed to drive in other series is almost unheard of.
Last year’s Le Mans participation by Nico Hulkenberg was a rare occasion and this year’s Indy 500 will have a current F1 driver on the grid. Alonso doesn’t think former McLaren CEO, Ron Dennis, would have every allowed him to race in another series but the team’s new man, Zak Brown, is another breed of cat.
“Zak is a man that has a bigger vision than other team principals or bosses that I had.
“He sees motorsport differently, he sees McLaren bigger and no longer concentrated on F1.
“He is a true racer, so it is great that McLaren had Zak come on board last year.”
The idea of which series to race in was split in the McLaren camp and it does go to show that these plans have been simmering for a while now. Should Alonso do the 24 hour of Le Mans or Indy?
“Because Zak is American he was pushing for the Indy 500, and Eric [Boullier] French pushing for Le Mans,” said Alonso.
“The McLaren-Honda partnership, to be able run this in Indy 500, was very attractive this year.
“Le Mans is something I will do, probably as soon as I can.
“I don’t know if it will be next year or in the following years.
“The first priority is F1.
“If I can race together with F1 and other series as I am doing this year it will be OK. If not I will only do F1.”
The big question now is, who will replace Alonso at the Monaco Grand Prix? The logical choice would be McLAren reserve driver, Jenson Button, but that’s not been announced yet and being that Zak is a marketing genius and showman, he may try for something unique and outside the box. However, there are some ont eh grid who would like to see the 2009 champ return for Monaco.
“I hope Jenson comes back, it would be great for the sport to have Jenson back,” said Lewis Hamilton, who raced alongside Button at McLaren from 2010-12.
“I still think he is one of the best drivers, his calibre is very high, and he is experienced.”
Hat Tip: Autosport