McLaren-Honda has allowed Fernando Alonso to skip Formula One’s Monaco Grand Prix on May 20 to instead contest the Indy 500 in the US, after the Spaniard’s team finished a disappointing 14th in Melbourne and 16th in China as the openers to the 2017 season.
The move has reportedly been weeks in the making following discussions between Alonso, Honda, McLaren and Andretti Motorsport, the latter of which contests the Indy 500 with other drivers in conjunction with those F1-racing marques.
Of the last four Indy 500 races, Honda/Andretti Motorsport has won two using native racers. It is, however, Alonso’s first steer around an oval circuit. In the case of the 4km Indianapolis track, that’s many rounds to make 500 miles or 805km.
“It’s a dream come true, the Indy 500, what a race to enter in the USA and hopefully win it or try to win it,” Alonso said on Twitter. “I'm sad to be missing the Monaco GP, my favourite race of the year, but I’m sure whoever steps in the car will do a great job.”
McLaren-Honda has not yet announced a replacement for the two-time F1 champion who has been struggling to maintain pace with the rest of the field so far this year, but former driver Jenson Button – who announced his retirement in November – is a favourite.
Grand Prix races in Bahrain, Russian and Spanish will round out the following three rounds of the 2017 Formula One season before Monaco, with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton notching up a race win each so far.