Fernando Alonso’s decision to race in the Indianapolis 500 this year is without doubt the biggest surprise the sport has seen since Nico Rosberg announced his retirement after winning the championship last year.
The development has been seen as a positive one for the IndyCar series and for McLaren. But as Alonso has chosen to skip the Monaco Grand Prix to take part in the race, how does it reflect on Formula One?
While Formula One will have to do without one of its best drivers in its most prestigious race, Alonso was unlikely to be a competitive force in the event anyway. This is no reflection on his talents, of course, but on the McLaren-Honda package, which has proved a crushing disappointment.
And what F1 is losing by not having Alonso is surely made up by the fact McLaren has promoted another world champion in its place. The return of Jenson Button to action adds another positive storyline.
Two years ago Nico Hulkenberg went to one of the other races in the ‘triple crown’ Alonso is seeking to win and took victory first time out. That reflected well on the standard of driving in F1. Success for Alonso at Indianapolis would do the same in a market where F1 is desperate to thrive.
By spurning Monaco for Indianapolis Alonso is sending out a message that IndyCar is more important than Formula One. This diminishes the sport, even if another world champion is arriving to take his place.
IndyCar is a more dangerous form of motor racing than Formula One and superspeedways like Indianapolis are the most dangerous venues of all. Alonso has already missed races in the last two seasons due to injury and is placing himself in unnecessary danger by taking on this race.
Alonso’s efforts will only reflect well on F1 if he succeeds. Against an entry list featuring hardened veterans with decades of oval experience, and fellow novices who might end his race at the first corner, the odds against him will be high.
As I wrote last week, I think the news is almost entirely positive for Formula One:
Alonso’s news has already sent some people scrambling to buy tickets for this year’s Indianapolis 500 while it seems few, if any, are planning to sell their Monaco tickets on the strength of his absence. Here’s what a selection of Twitter users had to say:
I'm not saying F1 should block him, but they should offer enough incentives where drivers shouldn't even think about moving to Indy
— Dylan whitlock (@dylan27w) April 16, 2017
Seriously. What is going on at mclaren? People still surprised fernando wants to go to Indy! Wouldn't blame him #F1
— DwodR (@dwod666) April 16, 2017
I'm going to guess it's no cake walk jumping into an Indy car & expect anyone to produce top results. ALO won't have that much time.
— Martin_F1 (@LonelyF1Guy) April 16, 2017
I actually hope Alonso wins the Indy 500 this year, maybe he'll just ditch F1 entirely, and drive the rest of the season too.
— Gordon / Ponza (@PonzaLT) April 16, 2017
— ForTheLoveofIndy (@4TheLoveOfIndy) April 16, 2017
— Martin Speed (@martinspeed) April 17, 2017
I like how Honda commercials brag about their indy car engines but neglect the dark corner of their current F1 engine
— Bryan Lewis (@SheWantTheB) April 17, 2017
— Brandon W. Mudd (@BWMudd) April 18, 2017
F1 fans are EXTREMELY loyal to the sport and their drivers. To think that Alonso doing the 500 is anything but good is ridiculous.
— Brooke (@IAmBrookeCurran) April 18, 2017
I'm honestly kinda not surprised there are folks from the F1 world not liking Fernando Alonso's decision to race the Indy 500.
— TheNASDude24 (@TheNASDude24) April 18, 2017
Fernando Alonso must win the Indy 500 just to show how weak it is.
— D R M M R (@Ru_NRD) April 12, 2017
Alonso skipping Monaco for Indy tells you a lot about the level of hopeless McLaren is at in F1.
— Somebody (@ASyntaxError) April 12, 2017
Absolutely LOVE that Fernando Alonso is running the Indianapolis 500. That will be great. And with McLaren and Andretti in tandem. Love it.
— Aaron Rosser (@ARosser14) April 12, 2017
Alonso/Indy thing is fascinating from a number of perspectives. And I doubt it would have happened if Bernie was still in charge.
— Brian Carroccio (@BrianC_AR1) April 12, 2017
Absolutely no single mention of Alonso to the Indy 500 on the back pages tomorrow. We're still a niche, guys.
— Uncle Gav (@LesRosbifs) April 12, 2017
Letting alonso do indy might keep him in the car a while longer but almost impossible to see him still being there in abu dhabi.
— Paudie Griffin (@punter19922) April 12, 2017
Tickets to Indy 500 and hotel booked! Go Alonso!
— MuradMussi (@MuradMussi) April 12, 2017
Still speechless that Fernando Alonso will drive Indy. IMO great driver who makes the most out of a car that may not be the best at times.
— Luis Torres (@TheLTFiles) April 12, 2017
— B.T. (@funnyman6869) April 12, 2017
All of the sudden I care about the Indy 500…thanks to Alonso.
— Ted Chauvin (@tedchauvin) April 12, 2017
guys I'm so pumped that I get to see Fernando Alonso race, let alone at the Indy 500
— Jaqi Robson (@jaqelle12) April 12, 2017
Alonso doing the Indy 500? This should be good.
— Me (@Mon_Jet) April 12, 2017
Alonso going to INDY 500 and will miss Monaco. Ugh. Wrong choice of the one to miss
This just shows that he's falling outta love… smh
— Dimi3 (@DimitriSaad) April 12, 2017
Alonso to Indy is not cool. The series, cars and competitors are laughable. Tired of reading how it will help promote F1 to U.S.
— Russyn (@WhiteRidgeline) April 12, 2017
— david_by_3 (@DavidAET) April 12, 2017
My wife RE Alonso at Indy – "If I'd known earlier, I'd have wanted to go". Now she tells me!
— Simon Lye (@simonlye) April 12, 2017
And as great as it is to have Alonso in the Indy 500 this year, the best news is the possibility of McLaren joining IndyCar full-time
— Matt H. (@Indycar_MN) April 12, 2017
Alonso is doing the Indy 500! Might have to give it a go & watch it… #F1
— Phillippa (@UltimateWebFan) April 12, 2017
excited to see Alonso race in the Indy 500
— Matt (@MWJS82) April 12, 2017
Alonso and McLaren in the Indy 500? WOW.
— Jacob Pile (@Hossahunter22) April 12, 2017
I think one of Alonso's biggest issues at Indy will be patience. You have to let the race come to you, not chase it like in circuit racing.
— Ian Court (@iancourtracing) April 12, 2017
Alonso at the Indy 500, that's some good news. Nice to have such a great driver as a 'wildcard'.
— Andrew Calder (@TrackTalentUK) April 12, 2017
Should imagine Mclaren are bending over backwards to keep Alonso happy, hence the Indy permission. Good for him, Monaco GP is a snoozefest.
— Tilikum (@catherinejebson) April 12, 2017
Really can't understand the orgasm everyone is having over Alonso doing Indy 500…
— santino (@tino_santino) April 12, 2017
Fernnando Alonso is racing the Indy 500? I need tickets!
— (((Ruben Tisch))) (@rubentisch) April 12, 2017
Might watch indy 500 this year if Alonso's in it
— Douglas Miller (@doulgmil) April 12, 2017
With Alonso deal to race Indy 500 and Turkish GP may be back next year, it's been a great day for #F1 – new US owners livening things up…
— Graham Norwood (@PropertyJourn) April 12, 2017
Can I just state that Fernando Alonso is wrong for skipping Monoco to race at Indy. He's under contract w/Mclaren & should race for them #F1
— Coalie (@Coalie00) April 12, 2017
Alonso at the Indy 500 should be an absolute blast. Gonna be a fun day of racing!
— Glen (@glenbeatsrobots) April 12, 2017
— David Rosario Rivera (@davidrosario) April 12, 2017
Alonso to Indy scorecard:
Indy & fans, Honda, ABC: Great
Zak & McLaren: Risky but big poss. upside
Alonso: huge risk, some upside
— Tommy Kendall (@TommyKendall11) April 12, 2017
I think the only way you could top the news of Alonso to Indy would be to announce Dale Jr in a Penske Chevy. The Alonso story is mega.
— Anthony Florio (@atflorio) April 12, 2017
Must admit that I'm really not a fan of oval racing, but I will definitely be enduring the Indy 500 to see how Alonso does!
— Owen – Pepe Silvia (@ORiddleo1995) April 12, 2017
Fernando Alonso racing in indy 500 in an attempt to win another part of the triple crown is more interesting than F1 atm
— Kingfunkel (@Kingfunkel) April 12, 2017
I don't think today could get any better for me than Alonso and McLaren to this year's Indy 500, but it's still early.
— Humberto S.™➡📜💌 (@vdeviance) April 12, 2017
Truthfully Alonso has more chance of winning an F1 race this season than winning the Indy 500. He'll have done great to finish top 10.
— Warren Allsworth (@warrenallsworth) April 12, 2017
Indy 500 suddenly has my interest. #Alonso
— Healy Chen (@chenhealy) April 12, 2017
— Louis or Smoke (@SmokinAces4824) April 12, 2017
Happy Alonso is racing Indy 500. Is anyone else suspicious that this is consolation prize from Honda for putting up their F1 engine?
— Jeff Smith (@JeffSmithGBPack) April 12, 2017
*spit take* Alonso is running Indy next month? Let that sink in. Wowwwwwww!
— Chuck Smith (@chucklessmith) April 12, 2017
Racing in the Indy 500 would be amazing and I can understand Alonso doing it, if the McLaren was more competitive I doubt he'd miss Monaco
— Anthony Thompson (@BGR_Anthony23) April 12, 2017
— Stephen King (@stephenVking) April 12, 2017
Alonso to Indy 500! Bernie Ecclestone must be spinning in his retirement grave. When Mansell left for Indy he effectively caused the split
— Rowan Jones (@RowanJones_) April 12, 2017
Guys, Alonso running the Indy 500 is not exciting. He's skipping one of his series biggest races, to run the 500. Shows how irrelevant he is
— Daniel Bragg (@DanielBragg21) April 12, 2017
Alonso will miss Monaco in order to take part of Indy 500. Can't say I blame him…
— Hannu Mäkinen (@HandesGames) April 12, 2017
OK but imagine Fernando Alonso winning the Indy 500 Rookie of the Year award. "Alonso" and "rookie" is just the weirdest combination.
— Catherine Benham (@catherinebenham) April 12, 2017
I'm sure I'll be excited about Alonso at Indy come raceday… But now I'm just disappointed with F1 for driving its greatest competitor away
— Oliver Harden (@OllieHarden) April 12, 2017
Alonso at the Indy 500. So so so awesome.
— Stefan Rzadzinski (@rzadracing) April 12, 2017
So stoked Fernando Alonso will be racing the Indy 500! Hope Andretti gives him a competitive 🚗
— toast (@ibToast) April 12, 2017
Don't understand why Alonso is racing the Indy 500 when Mclaren Honda can't even cope with F1
— Dave Laws (@dave__laws) April 12, 2017
Wo wo wo. Alonso at Indy 500? I can get behind this
— Henry Davis (@theCEPenguin) April 12, 2017
Old F1 Administration would of never been ok with Alonso racing Indy. High brow Brits thought little of US market
— Brandon Joseph (@BJosephRadio) April 12, 2017
Alonso will miss the Monaco GP? What the hell Nando… Just race the Indy 500 next year when you're retired
— Matt Parker (@zoonmattau) April 12, 2017
Fernando Alonso I'd doing the Indy 500 and is interested in the motor racing triple crown. I'm not into US racing but hype right now!
— Glen Jones (@leppiesamma) April 12, 2017
The Indy 500 is the greatest race in the world and Alonso coming shows the importance of it on a global stage
— Tony Donohue (@TonyD1070) April 12, 2017
Is Fernando Alonso the biggest name to come to the Indy 500 since the IRL split? Biggest since Nigel Mansell in 93? Love this news
— Travis Pineapple (@Rob_In_WI) April 12, 2017
It's crazy to me that Alonso is bypassing Monaco to race Indy. Shows how much of a disaster the F1 situation is.
— a.k.a. Andrew (@AKlahn) April 12, 2017
Alonso contesting Indy 500 is brilliant. Keeps him happy, gives him an educated option on future. Win-win. Interested to hear replacement.
— Damian Meaden (@DamianMeadenTCN) April 12, 2017
Fernando Alonso to race at Indy? Shocker, but I'm so ready.
— Massimo Cubello (@maxcubello) April 12, 2017
Alonso in the Indy 500 will be mega! Fingers crossed we get to see JB in Monaco as well. Only person that makes sense.
— Will (@Will_horizons) April 12, 2017
— David Land (@DLand91) April 12, 2017
And I thought last year's Indy 500 was huge, this year's race might as well be even bigger now with Fernando Alonso in it! :D #IndyCar
— Kashvinder Mann (@KashMann27) April 12, 2017
Alonso in the Indy 500? Oh my.
— LlamaFIL (@LlamaFIL) April 12, 2017
Alonso at Indy is great news. Indycar is great, this should give the series some more of the publicity it deserves. #Indy500
— Jed Lilly (@Jed_Lilly) April 12, 2017
Alonso tot he Indy 500 is huge. Great to see a big international name drop in.
— Brian Karczewski (@LVI56) April 12, 2017
Alonso at Indy 500 is great. And I'll actually have a reason to watch it for once.
— SameDefense #Steal16 (@RickNashtag) April 12, 2017
— Tamira_Madsen (@tamiramadsen) April 12, 2017
Alonso to Indy is one of the most baffling announcements in recent memory. Would never have happened with Ron Dennis around.
— Alex Turco (@alexjturco) April 12, 2017
Alonso racing Indy 500 instead of Monaco, sounds fun!
— McKinley Morganfield (@mckinley06) April 12, 2017
Two-time F1 champion Fernando Alonso to race Indy 500 for McLaren. Pretty cool!
— Nicholas Dettmann (@Dettmann_WBDN) April 12, 2017
Big surprise to see that Fernando Alonso will race the Indy 500 and miss the Monaco GP. I will be interested to see how he does at Indy #F1
— Scott Rose (@srose93) April 12, 2017
Alonso is doing Indy?!?!?!? ALONSO IS DOING INDY, WOW!!! Like the 500 wasn't gonna be exciting already, incredible news! #MegaExcited
— Matthew Day (@matthewnotmatt) April 12, 2017
The Indy 500 is already like a delicious box of Long's Donuts. The Alonso news is like saying, "Here, let me dump ice cream on those donuts"
— Nick Yeoman (@NYeoman) April 12, 2017
Alonso to miss Monaco for Indy? That's got to be one of the must idiotic sporting and commercial decisions I've heard in #F1 .
— Stuart Garlick (@stuartgarlick) April 12, 2017
Alonso running the Indy 500 is pretty huge.
— Ryan Papaserge (@RyanPapaserge) April 12, 2017
— Sudha (@Sudha_F1) April 12, 2017
Alonso to race Indy 500, but miss Monaco GP…I'd do it too tbh
— Luke Ralph (@ralphio88) April 12, 2017
Cannot believe Alonso is going to tackle the Indy 500! Kudos to him!
— Will (@WillPeace_98) April 12, 2017
— Hened Collaku (@henedersonn) April 12, 2017
— Richard Holt (@r1ch91) April 12, 2017
Alonso will do great at Indy. The 500 has a history of drivers leaving F1 to win that race, including the last two years (Montoya, Rossi)
— Gordon / Ponza (@PonzaLT) April 12, 2017
Fernando Alonso going to race in Indy 500 is really cool. But if you ask me, it's the beginning of the end for his F1 career.
— [ARI2] [NR6] Gautier (@GautierRinville) April 12, 2017
Something tells me that Alonso is becoming more and more disinterested in #F1… missing Monaco for the Indy 500 instead
— James Deeley (@JamDelay) April 12, 2017
Fernando Alonso driving the Indy 500 is almost dreamlike. Except this dream is real and is going to happen.
— Dwayne :-) (@allaboutthegyro) April 12, 2017
Can't help feeling the Alonso/Indy deal isn't a good idea. Indy bites. Hope I'm wrong
— Matt Devenish (@MDevenish) April 12, 2017
— Richard Craill (@Craillsy) April 12, 2017
Alonso at Indy is just best thing ever
— David Tunnicliffe (@lights_to_flag) April 12, 2017
Wow. Can't believe Alonso is skipping Monaco to race at Indy. He's gotta be near quitting F1 soon if he's done this
— Plummer Jr (@DanPlumm) April 12, 2017
2016 Indy 500 was the first Indy 500 race I watched and I witnessed history.. Can't wait to see it again this time with Alonso competing
— Fergal Walsh (@fergalf1) April 12, 2017
Fernando Alonso missing the Monaco Grand Prix to take part in the Indy 500. Wrong move for me that one.
— Ricci Dunn (@B_H_Baggie) April 12, 2017
Really looking forward to seeing what Alonso does at Indy, I still think it's Josef Newgarden to lose, but it be a hell of a race 🏁,
— Matthew Hyndman (@matthewhyndman) April 12, 2017
McLaren must be desperate to keep Alonso happy if they're letting him miss Monaco to run at Indy
— Matthew Rogerson (@mattrogerson7) April 12, 2017
Excited to read this morning that Fernando Alonso will drive for Andretti Autosport in this year's Indy 500!
— Paul Quirke (@msuiu) April 12, 2017
Alonso is to do the Indy 500!? Brilliant decision, going to see more overtaking there than the last two seasons of f1! Great move!
— Rob Moulton (@RobertoMoulton) April 12, 2017
To be fair, I'd rather watch the Indy 500 than the Monaco procession any day. Alonso knows it'd be a wasted weekend.
— Rich (@Rich_Dixon84) April 12, 2017
Big props to @McLarenF1 for letting Alonso race the Indy 500… be good to see more F1 drivers in other cars
— Matt freer (@matt_freer) April 12, 2017
Don't care what anyone says, Alonso going off to take on the Indy 500 simply screams get me out. Honestly feel he's looking at other options
— Harry Spindler (@harryspindle) April 12, 2017
I am truly gob smacked that Alonso will be competing in this years Indy 500!!! Wow!!
— Matt Lloyd (@toomanymatts) April 12, 2017
Alonso racing Indy instead of F1 clearly shows priority issues within McLaren 😔😔
— Samantha Nelson (@SamanthaNBM) April 12, 2017
Alonso to miss Monaco for Indy 500. Good move, Honda need success in USA. Not going to get it in F1, might as well send your best driver #F1
— Patrick Millar (@_patrickmillar) April 12, 2017
Wow Alonso to race the Indy 500, this could be epic! Would love him to make the switch permanent, wouldn't be surprised if it happened!
— Liam Redford (@Liam_Redford) April 12, 2017
Is Alonso racing at Indianapolis positive or negative for F1? Cast your vote below and explain you views in the comments.
Is Fernando Alonso racing at Indianapolis positive for Formula One?
- Very positive (61%)
- Slightly positive (23%)
- Neither positive nor negative (6%)
- Slightly negative (4%)
- Very negative (5%)
- No opinion (1%)
Total Voters: 264
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Debates and polls
- Was Alonso right about Palmer’s “joke” penalty?
- Which new drivers belong on the F1 grid in 2018?
- Was Vettel’s ‘dangerous driving’ penalty correct?
- Do F1’s blue flag rules need changing?
- Should McLaren give up on Honda for 2018?