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Alonso Won’t Return to the Indy 500 in 2018

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Alonso with McLaren Honda Andretti

Fernando Alonso’s participation in the 101st running of the Indianapolis 500 was one of the highlights of this year in motorsports—and could have been so much more had his engine not gone up in flames, as he had been poised to fight for the win in the closing stages.

Since then there has been speculation as to whether Alonso would return, given his claimed goal of earning the unofficial “Triple Crown of Motorsports.” However, both he and McLaren have confirmed that neither will return to the Indy 500 in 2018, likely because it ended its relationship with Honda, who continues to supply Mario Andretti’s team in IndyCar—the team that had made Alonso’s entry in the 500 possible in the first place.

“It’s off the table,” Zak Brown, executive director at McLaren, told Racer. “It didn’t tick all the boxes. It will be hard to repeat the awareness we created with Fernando. We could have gone to Indy next year just as another Indy 500 entry. But that’s not McLaren. McLaren, we’re proud—and when we do things we have to do things the McLaren way.”

Alonso will be focusing on the other component of the Triple Crown in 2018, starting with the 24 Hours of Daytona and possibly Le Mans after that. As for McLaren, Brown says the reason the team won’t return to the Indy 500 is because it doesn’t want to repeat another one-off. Having already done that, if McLaren competes again it will have to be as part of a committed multi-year program.

“I’d rather the next time we go—whether that be the Indy 500 only or IndyCar—it not be a one-off. How much time am I or we prepared to spend on going to Indy?”

“If we take the decision it’s Indy only, I would like it to be Indy only for the next 10 years. Buy a car, partner with a team—but we’re committing to it in the long term. This year was a one-off, crazy idea that turned into a great opportunity.”