By: Tanner Watkins
November 10, 2018 | 2:39 PM
Well, it is not for the entire IndyCar Series season, but in 2019 we will once again see “Alonso Mania.”
Confirmed this morning by the storied racing team, McLaren will return to the Indianapolis 500 in 2019 with two-time Formula One world champion Fernando Alonso as their driver.
Alonso, 37, could capture the motorsports Triple Crown with a victory at Indianapolis with wins at Le Mans and Monaco already under his belt.
“I’ve made clear for some time my desire to achieve the Triple Crown. I had an incredible experience at Indianapolis in 2017 and I knew in my heart of hearts I had to go back if the opportunity was there,” Alonso said in a McLaren statement.
“I’m especially glad to be returning with McLaren. This was always my first choice if the team decided to do it, so I’m delighted they’ve decided to go ahead. It’s a tough race and we’ll be up against the best, so it will be a huge challenge. But we’re racers and that’s why we race.
A theme the Spaniard mentioned multiple times during his stay in Indianapolis for the 2017 race, Alonso is happy to have another chance to interact with the IndyCar Series fans and the laid-back nature of the garage area compared to Formula One’s culture.
“One of the things I’m looking forward to most is seeing the fans again, who are absolutely fantastic,” Alonso added.
While many details are still to be released – such as which engine manufacturer McLaren will team up with – team CEO Zak Brown was pleased to not only break the silence by announcing McLaren is returning, but also with Alonso staying as the driver.
“We are relishing our return to the Brickyard and this incredible race,” Brown stated. “McLaren has a long and fond relationship with the Indianapolis 500 and it’s a case of unfinished business for us with Fernando. No Indy 500 is a cakewalk, it’s a massive challenge.
“We have the utmost respect for the race and our competitors. So, we are under no illusions. But McLaren are racers first and foremost, as is Fernando. We’re going for it.”
McLaren won the Indianapolis 500 three times between 1972 and 1976 (each two years apart) and in 2019 the entry will be titled “McLaren Racing.” It is unclear whether the team will pair-up with another established IndyCar Series organization as they did in 2017 with Andretti Autosport.
In that 2017 race, Alonso qualified 5th and led multiple times before his Honda engine expired on lap 179.
Header image by Chris Owens/INDYCAR.