After many months of speculations, it’s finally confirmed: Fernando Alonso will drive the 104th Indianapolis 500, which will be run on 24 May 2020.
The 38-year-old Spaniard will race for Arrow McLaren SP, in the team’s third car for the Indy 500.
The rumours have been floating around for months, and through a big part of last fall and during the winter, and everything pointed towards Andretti Autosports. There was however a small issue, since they race with Honda engines, and Honda in Japan still haven’t forgotten the less than complementary comments regarding their engine in the back of the McLaren Formula 1 in past years. Everything appeared to have been cleared, to give it a fresh start at Andretti with a Honda engine – but then Honda in Japan was asked, and they said a very firm NO. The announcement of Alonso at Andretti had to be cancelled at very short notice. They have since signed James Hinchcliffe, who will race the team’s sixth car at three races this year.
Alonso made his debut at Indy 500 in 2017 for Andretti Autosports, before returning in 2019, racing for McLaren Racing. Everything prior to the race went wrong from them, even from the very first test, and got even worse when the primary car was crashed early in the qualifying week for the Indy 500. Then he had to switch to the backup car, and couldn’t find the pace at all, ending up not qualifying for the race, which was a mix of disappointment and scandal.
McLaren decided to make a deal with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports for the 2020 season, so the team will be named Arrow McLaren SP. Everything has been changed regarding the drivers, where James Hinchcliffe and Marcus Ericsson no longer will race for the team. Oliver Askew and Patricio O’Ward are the two new full-season drivers, with the addition of Alonso for Indy 500 – as long as all three drivers qualify.
Fernando Alonso is currently working on the so-called Triple Crown in motorsport, with him already having won Formula 1 in Monaco and the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and just needs the Indy 500 in that collection. He has also won the FIA World Endurance Championship in the LMP1 category, plus the Daytona 24 Hours, and participated in the Dakar Rally.
Alonso will race car #66, under the Ruoff Mortgage Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet banner. He will have Craig Hampson as an engineer on the car. Hampson was previously at Dale Coyne Racing, where he partnered up with Sebastien Bourdais, and did some amazing things for the small team, against all the big ones. So you certainly can’t blame him, if the qualifying for the Indy 500 should fail this year.