Fernando Alonso has renewed his allegiance to McLaren for this year’s Indy 500, the Spaniard entering the blue riband event with a third entry from the new Arrow McLaren SP outfit.
Alonso’s original plan of running at the Brickyard with Andretti Autosport was squandered by Honda, leaving the two-time world champion with very few options for the month of May.
However, Arrow McLaren SP’s ability to run three cars at Indy has kept alive Alonso’s dream of winning motorsport’s Triple Crown should he triumph this year at the Speedway.
Alonso’s #66 Ruoff Mortgage-sponsored crew will include race engineer Craig Hampson while full-time drivers Patricio O’Ward and Oliver Askew will complete the Chevrolet-powered team’s line-up.
“Adding Fernando to the team brings a level of experience and expertise that will benefit our two young talented full-time drivers in Oliver and Pato,” said team owner Sam Schmidt.
“We have fast cars at Indy and fully believe he has the talent to run at the front, not just participate.
“That, combined with Chevy power and the experience of the team, will make this trio of drivers one of the strongest in the field.”
Despite cutting his ties with McLaren at the end of last year, Alonso admitted he still had a special relationship with the Woking-based outfit.
“I am a racer and the Indy 500 is the greatest race in the world,” said Alonso. “I love the incredible fans who make it so special for all of us drivers and make me want to come back.
“I have maximum respect for this race and everyone who competes in it and all I want to do is race against them and give my best, as always.
“It was important for me to explore my options for this race but Arrow McLaren SP has always been at the top. I have a special relationship with McLaren; we’ve been through a lot together and that creates a bond, a loyalty that is strong.
“But more than that I am impressed with how the new organization and operation is developing into a strong package with the Chevrolet partnership. The team has experienced, well-qualified people and great resources, and I’m confident we can be competitive.
“I’m focused and excited to begin our preparations. It will also be great to work with Oliver and Pato, two fantastic young talents for the future who are growing all the time.”
McLaren boss Zak Brown was happy to welcome his former driver back home.
“We’ve always said we’re open to running Fernando in a third car for the 500, so we’re delighted he’s decided to join us,” Brown said.
“Fernando is one of the greatest drivers in the sport and it’s fantastic to have him as part of the team.
“It’s a fine way to contest our first Indy 500 as Arrow McLaren SP and to have Ruoff Mortgage backing Fernando is a perfect partnership.”