Fernando Alonso has said next week’s Indianapolis 500 will be his last attempt at the triple crown for at least two years, as he returns to Formula 1 with Renault.
In 2017, McLaren’s F1 prospects were so poor that Alonso was able to skip the Monaco Grand Prix with the team’s blessing in order to take part in the Indy 500 with a McLaren-backed Andretti Autosport entry. He starred and was in contention for the win until his Honda engine blew.
Having taken a two-year sabbatical from F1, Alonso has found it easier to prepare for Indy for the two editions, but in 2021 he will relight his F1 career at Renault.
There had been much speculation that with the Monaco GP and the Indy 500 set to not run on the same weekend next season, 23rd May and 30th May respectively, that he might be able to do both, despite Indy qualifying being held on the Monaco weekend.
Indianapolis Motor Speedway rules are that the car rather than the driver qualifies, so theoretically another driver could qualify a car for Alonso, and he would take it over for the race, albeit starting from the back of the 33-car field.
However, Alonso ended that idea when asked how he has mentally prepared for the race and if he regarded next week’s 104th running of the Indy 500 as “the last chance for a little while to try to win”.
“I approach the race knowing the next two years is going to be impossible to come [back]. I will have to miss qualifying weekend if I wanted to do so,” Alonso said.
“I will not be with McLaren next year in F1 [so] that will not work either. I know at least for two years I will not be here.
“Look, this is the way it is at the moment. I’m here ready to enjoy the event, ready to give my best, and help the team as much as I can. Let’s see in the future what are the possibilities. If you eventually win one day the race, maybe that opens the possibility for different things.”
On the subject of how his racing diary looks for the remainder of this season, Alonso said: “When I stopped F1 in 2018, then 2019 it was too much, it was too active. I was racing from January, the 24 Hours of Daytona, then Sebring, then was testing, then Spa, 24 Hours of Le Mans, Indy, the preparation of the car. I had the full attack season.
“This 2020 I wanted to relax a little bit. Doing the Dakar in January, then full focus on the Indy 500. The second part of the season just relax, charge the batteries. In 2021, I’m going back to F1, I knew it could be very demanding.
“The virus arrived then we had a quieter season – more than we wanted [for] everybody. But in my case I just planned to do the Indy 500. This is what I’m doing.
“From Monday 24th [August], it’s going to be again a quiet season preparing myself physically, mentally.
“A couple of simulator days with Renault, maybe attending two or three grands prix just to see how they work on track. But, yeah, quite easy second part of the year.”