AUSTIN, Texas — Just hours after announcing a new deal with McLaren for the 2018 Formula 1 season, Fernando Alonso confirmed that he would not be returning stateside for the 102nd Indianapolis 500 next May.
After a scintillating debut in which he qualified fifth and led the race in a McLaren-Andretti Honda, before motor woes sidelined the popular Spaniard, much talk was thrown around about Alonso’s potential participation in ‘The Greatest Spectacle In Racing’ for a second year in succession.
Thursday’s United States Grand Prix press conferences quashed those rumors, at least for the upcoming year.
“With the new McLaren deal for next year, I can confirm that I will not be in the Indy 500 next year, because (the) Monaco Grand Prix (is) the same weekend and the priority next year will be to perform well in Formula 1,” Alonso said. “But at the same time, I can confirm that I will be in the Indy 500 in the future. I don’t know if it will be 2019, or 2020 or whatever, but it’s a race that I definitely will do again.”
Alonso stressed that McLaren’s main goal, as well as his own, will be improving the team’s performance and results, especially due to the new Renault engines that they will be using starting in March at the Australian Grand Prix.
“We have enough to do for next year to put McLaren again at the top of the grid. That’s the first priority right now,” Alonso said. “On my personal side, there are no other priorities than Formula 1 at the moment, but (there is always) a door open for different series and different goals.”
Those goals that Alonso references still include winning the Triple Crown of Motorsport — the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Indianapolis 500 and Monaco Grand Prix — but completing the Indy portion of that quest will wait at least until 2019.
“I always believe you need to win in other series if you want to be a more complete driver and a better driver, because motorsport is not only Formula 1 only. So even if (F1) is still the priority, we’ll see what the future brings.”
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Jacob Seelman is the Managing Editor of Race Chaser Online and creator of the Motorsports Madness radio show, airing at 7 p.m. Eastern every Monday on the Performance Motorsports Network.
Seelman grew up in the sport, watching his grandparents co-own the RaDiUs Motorsports NASCAR Cup Series team in the 1990s.
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