The eyes of the motor racing world will be on Fernando Alonso next month as he bids to complete Triple Crown of Motorsport at the Indianapolis 500.
Alonso, is attempting to become just the second driver, following Graham Hill, to achieve the feat. The Spaniard already has won Formula 1’s Monaco Grand Prix and sport-car racing’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.
A victory in the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 26, would complete the set and etch Alonso’s name into motor racing folklore.
The 37-year-old can be backed at odds of around 30/1 at indy-betting.com to win the ‘Greatest Spectacle in Racing’, although it would be foolish to dismiss his chances.
Plenty of people questioned Alonso’s decision to skip the Monaco Grand Prix for the Indianapolis 500 back in 2017, but his performance was hugely impressive.
After starting on the second row and dropping to ninth in a fuel mapping miscommunication, Alonso charged past 2016 race winner Alexander Rossi for the lead.
He led the race for 27 laps, the third most of any driver, before engine failure cost him the chance of recording an historic victory.
Alonso recently tested his car, operated by McLaren and painted in the orange and blue F1 livery, in Texas and he impressed onlookers with his speed.
The Spaniard believes his previous experience of driving in the Indianapolis 500 will stand him in good stead for this year’s renewal.
“I feel more prepared – this time I start with the fact that I already know the race, the atmosphere that surrounds it,” he told Marca.
“I know things that the first time you run the 500 miles you are spending energy. I can use that energy in qualifying and in the race, but this race takes me as if I started from scratch.
“I do not want to take anything for granted. I want to analyse the races of the past, I want to start from scratch with the engineers in all things.
“I want to go to the simulator In short – my goal is to do all the preparation I can for the appointment of May 26.”
A strong performance from Alonso would be a major boost for McLaren, with the team expected to join the series permanently in the next couple of years.
Whether Alonso would want to drive in the United States on a full-time basis is debatable, although if he fails to win this year’s race the temptation to try and complete the Triple Crown could prove too strong.
Official practice for the 103rd Indianapolis 500 begins on Tuesday, May 14, with qualifying to determine the 33-car field taking place on May 18-19. The race is scheduled for Sunday, May 26.