Fernando Alonso’s love for the Indianapolis 500 has weathered a blown engine while contending for victory, not to mention a failure to qualify for the greatest American race, but the Spaniard will be chasing a more positive outcome when he partners with Arrow McLaren SP to return and make his third attempt to win in May.
Alonso, with one Indy 500 start and most of a second event’s worth of running, will be tasked with guiding the team’s two young full-timers in Pato O’Ward, who also failed to qualify for the 2019 race, and Oliver Askew, who enters the event as the lone rookie in the squad. Craig Hampson is expected to engineer Alonso in the No. 66 Chevy sporting the colors and sponsorship of Ruoff Mortgage, which Takuma Sato wore during his popular Indy 500 win for Andretti Autosport in 2017.
“I am a racer and the Indy 500 is the greatest race in the world,” Alonso said. “I love the incredible fans who make it so special for all of us drivers and make me want to come back. I have maximum respect for this race and everyone who competes in it, and all I want to do is race against them and give my best, as always.
“It was important for me to explore my options for this race, but Arrow McLaren SP has always been at the top. I have a special relationship with McLaren; we’ve been through a lot together and that creates a bond, a loyalty that is strong.
“But more than that, I am impressed with how the new organization and operation is developing into a strong package with the Chevrolet partnership. The team has experienced, well-qualified people and great resources, and I’m confident we can be competitive.
“I’m focused and excited to begin our preparations. It will also be great to work with Oliver and Pato, two fantastic young talents for the future who are growing all the time.”
Half of the team’s leadership is familiar to the two-time Formula 1 world champion, having spent the latter stage of his F1 career under the direction of McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown and sporting director Gil de Ferran. The rest of Chevy-powered crew is new to Alonso, who made his 2017 Indy 500 debut in a partnership with Andretti Autosport, Honda, and McLaren, and drove for the standalone McLaren Racing effort last year.
“Adding Fernando to the team brings a level of experience and expertise that will benefit our two young, talented full-time drivers in Oliver and Pato,” said Sam Schmidt, who formed the team in 2001. “We have fast cars at Indy and fully believe he has the talent to run at the front, not just participate. That, combined with Chevy power and the experience of the team, will make this trio of drivers one of the strongest in the field.”
The 38-year old will turn his first laps in the No. 66 AMSP Chevy at IMS during the April 30 Open Test.