Fernando Alonso and McLaren executive director Zak Brown are both treating this year’s Indy 500 appearance for McLaren as the first of many rather than a one-off.
The Spaniard will drive a McLaren-Honda-Andretti in next month’s showpiece at Indianapolis, missing the Monaco Grand Prix in order to compete in the 500. Alonso says his motivation is to secure the “Triple Crown” – also including the Le Mans 24 Hours – and as such he expects to return to Indianapolis if he doesn’t win this year.
“Let’s take it day-by-day,” Alonso said at Sunday’s IndyCar race at Barber Motorsports Park. “We’ll see on the 29th, Monday, what is the situation, how much I enjoy the experience, how competitive I felt, you know, if I had fun, which is the priority for me. I do this because I love racing cars, and I love driving the fastest cars.
“So the name of Indy 500 is the biggest race in the world – so it’s very attractive to race it, to enjoy and to feel that unique experience. I think everyone is telling me that it will be a unique atmosphere, and a very intense day. So after that, I think, you know, whatever, despite the result that is we will achieve on Sunday, we will think together what is the future. I’m very open.
“I want to be the most complete driver in the world and the best driver in the world and I want to win all the series in different cars with different driving techniques; that I need to adapt and that I need to grow up as a driver. If I want to do that, I need to win it. And if it’s not this year, we will plan it for the next attempt.”
Brown has also hinted at a more permanent return for the team to IndyCar and he at least wants to be racing at the 500 on a regular basis.
“I would like to see McLaren, Honda, competing in Indianapolis every year,” Brown said. “Originally this was an idea that I thought we could pursue in 2018. And given the circumstances of how we are running in Formula 1 right now, and given Fernando’s desire and Honda’s desire to win together, this created a very, very small window of opportunity that we jumped on.”
Alonso is currently out of contract at McLaren at the end of this season, having yet to finish on the podium since returning to the team when it rekindled its Honda partnership in F1 at the start of 2015.