IndyCar drivers “shocked and excited” by Alonso’s arrival

What they say about...

Posted on

| Written by

IndyCar drivers have reacted with surprise and excitement at the news Fernando Alonso will join them for this year’s Indianapolis 500.

Here’s what some of them had to say:

“Maybe Honda can give me a ride in Formula One!”
I’m excited. It’s huge for IndyCar. But motor racing in general, I think we’ve seen a little bit of people crossing over from NASCAR to IndyCar and vice-versa. But it’s been some time since we’ve seen someone coming in from Formula One. Especially this weekend, the Indianapolis 500, we know it’s also their marquee event in Monaco. And for Alonso to make a decision like that to come in for a one-off requires a lot of confidence. I think all of us were somewhat shocked but also so excited to have someone of his calibre and someone with his racing background to come and join the greatest spectacle in racing.

Obviously there’s a lot of political things that make these [moves] tough but I think everybody would love to have the opportunity to switch racecrafts. I’ve talked to Chip [Ganassi, team boss] before about trying a [NASCAR] Cup car at some stage. Formula One has never really been an option for most people once you’re in your series it sticks that way. Obviously right now I think with what Alonso’s doing it definitely opens some options. Maybe Honda can give me a ride in Formula One!
Scott Dixon, four-times IndyCar champion and Indianapolis 500 winner

‘I thought it was an April Fool’s joke’
When the announcement came out I thought someone was late on hitting ‘send’ on an April Fool’s joke, to be honest. The first thought was just surprise that a driver as competitive and as committed as Fernando was willing to miss Formula One’s crown jewel race at Monaco to do anything else. But then it makes me think the other way, it just shows how much value the Indy 500 has and how special it is to racing drivers all over the world, not just here in North America. For him to miss, of all races, Monaco to come and race the 500 for us, it just shows how much it means to him.

If I were to give Fernando Alonso some advice into really getting ingrained in the Andretti Autosport team, I think it’s actually going to be pretty easy. He already knows Takuma [Sato] and [Alexander] Rossi from their stints in F1. So that’s done and dusted. He loves running so him and Marco [Andretti] are going to be able to knock out 5Ks every morning which is going to be great. I don’t know if he’s a fisherman but he maybe should brush up on that a little bit because all Ryan [Hunter-Reay] really talks about is boats. Other than that I think it’s going to be pretty easy for him.
James Hinchcliffe, five-times IndyCar race winner

I think it’s even broader than that, I think it’s big news for the sport. It’s going to be fun to be able to work with him and see if he can bring a new type of thinking to it. What he thinks of it. I’m kind of liking that the F1 guys are more open to coming over, they used to think we’re crazy but now, I think Rossi winning it might entice them a little bit. It’s going to be fun all the way through the month to work with him. I’ve always looked up to him as a driver as well. It’s good for everybody.

We’ll see how he comes up to speed and stuff like that but I’m sure he’ll be fine. Alex won it, it’s a decent comparison, I think, to him.
Marco Andretti, two-times IndyCar race winer, one of Alonso’s team mates

Welcome to the team Fernando Alonso! The epitome of a true racer. Huge undertaking, big crossover taking it head on. Look fwd to working w/you
Ryan Hunter-Reay, Indianapolis 500 winner, IndyCar champion and one of Alonso’s team mates

“Glad I was able to do my part to help”
I love the history of Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Happy to see McLaren return to the speedway after 38 years. Congratulations Zak Brown, IndyCar, Honda and all involved.

As a McLaren Young Driver of the year Award Winner in 2007, glad I was able to do my part to help McLaren, Alonso and Brown be in the Indy 500.

Don’t discount how much this race means to me. I’ll be working hard as an ambassador for my sponsors in May 2017 and looking forward to 2018. This was a decision that was for the greater good of my sponsors (IN Donor Network and Gap Guard), IndyCar, Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indianapolis 500

Also, so pumped for Michael Shank Racing! Would have been a fun month together, but over the moon that you have your shot in the Indy 500.
Stefan Wilson, two-times IndyCar race starter who relinquished his Indy 500 seat for Alonso

Fantastic news this morning! Excited to race Alonso and McLaren in the Indianapolis 500 with Andretti this year!
Simon Pagenaud, reigning IndyCar champion

Welcome to the greatest race in the world Fernando Alonso. You will have a lot fun.
Tony Kanaan, Indianapolis 500 winner

Welcome Fernando Alonso and McLaren to the greatest race in the world.
Josef Newgarden, three-times IndyCar race winer

Welcome to the fastest motor race in the world Fernando Alonso! Great to have a world champion on the grid.
Max Chilton

Not gonna lie, pretty pumped to see Fernando Alonso in an IndyCar for the Indy 500. Nice work by Zan Broan and McLaren. Welcome Fernando!

Zak Brown is a marketer and innovator. Passionate about the Indy 500 and F1, I’m sure did everything he could to make the Alonso deal happen.
Graham Rahal, four-times IndyCar race winner

The Indy 500 is like no other race in the world! Welcome to Indianapolis Motor Speedway and IndyCar.
Charlie Kimball, IndyCar race winner

“Obviously you need some balls to do it”
Obviously you need some balls to do it. I think that Alonso will handle it well. He has pretty big experience in racing. It will be interesting because oval is very unique racing.
Mikhail Aleshin

Woo. I get to race against Fernando Alonso now that is cool.
Sage Karam

Another legend in the 500 this year. This will be epic.
Gabby Chaves

Huge respect for him taking the 500 challenge, don’t know of any other F1 driver that would have the b***s to do it!
Oriol Servia

This is just f****** awesome. Welcome!
JR Hildebrand


Browse all IndyCar articles

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

21 comments on “IndyCar drivers “shocked and excited” by Alonso’s arrival”

  1. Its so much different than when Nico did Le Mans. Because Nico wasn’t tied to any manufacturer and the dates didn’t clash.

    Back then it was very big news for WEC to have an current F1 driver involved, so I’d imagine it’s even bigger news for Indycar to have not just any current F1 driver, but a two time champion and one of the best ever Grand Prix drivers.

    But what does it mean for F1? Brown might be very clever with marketing and trying to keep Alonso happy with the team but F1 lost a major star at their jewel race. That’s gotta mean something.

    I wonder what Corey Chase and the lot think about this move. Maybe it’s also an opportunity to make F1 bigger in America, also tying them both at COTA in the future. That’d put emphasis back in F1 I suppose. Though indycar seems to enjoy good, competitive racing something F1 has been lacking in recent times, and maybe a direct comparisonisnt all that good.

    1. GnosticBrian
      13th April 2017, 0:05

      In 1966, Jackie Stewart was leading by a whole lap with only 10 to go when he lost oil pressuure. Graham Hill won with Jim Clark second – total British domination.

    2. Don’t think F1 wants to go head to head with IndyCar. Fans would really see how boring it is in comparison.

  2. This is great news… I am just eating this up! A true racer giving up the prestigious Monaco race for Indy. At least we can see Alonso race competitively this year even if only for one race. Honda is throwing him a bone. I have a feeling he won’t return it to the F1 team.

  3. What’s he giving up by not racing Monaco?
    Not much I’d say, probably a retirement due to mechanical issues.
    Bloody stinking McLaren Honda.

    1. Fukobayashi (@)
      13th April 2017, 11:21


      1. Fukobayashi (@)
        13th April 2017, 11:25

        I’d go even further by saying Honda and McLaren gain a ton from this. As the car will be branded McLaren Honda, a lot of people will tune in and instead of seeing a McLaren Honda embarrassing itself, will see a front running car. I would bet they duplicate the livery and everything.

  4. Now this is what makes racing interesting. Wonder what Jenson Button is thinking….? :)

    1. I’ve gotta drive that pile of £$%^, you complete B”£$S^*!!! Alonso

  5. Monaco is the only race where McLaren can score points.

  6. Finally a true showdown between Max chilton and Alonso. I really hope Fernando can deliver.

    1. Hahaha. One thing’s for sure.. that Chilton should finish the race.

    2. Fukobayashi (@)
      13th April 2017, 11:26


    3. And Sato, Bourdais Rossi, JPM…

      He’s going to find out that Pagenaud, Dixon, Rahal, Newgarden, Hunter-Reay, Marco… are really good.

    4. Don’t forget, Alexander Rossi is the defending Indy 500 champion, and he won on a fuel-saving strategy.

      Alonso may be the only driver on the planet who can get more distance out of a Honda’s fuel tank than Rossi. ;)

  7. Indy 500 is for sure a big untertaining show, and it is probably great to attend.
    but it is a also very basic compared to F1. the cars are far less Advanced, wether it is aero or engine or chassis, and lets face it, the racing level is a step lower. Bourdais dominated in the US… either oval or speedways, you can see some rather rough moves, on track or in the pits. things you rarely see in F1.
    and for McLaren it really feels like the beginning of the end.

    1. I think you need to rethink your view of the level of racing at Indianapolis. How can racing at very close quarters at speeds over 220 mph be “a step lower”? Different yes, but certainly not lower. And, you rarely see “rough moves” in F1? Hahahahahahahaha……

    2. I think a better example of a driver coming from F1 and dominating would be Zanardi.
      The racing at Indy is sustained 220mph, not reaching the 220mph at the end of a straight before braking. Add to this the close proximity of cars around you at that speed racing for the same bit of track and I would beg to differ that the racing level is a step lower. I agree with Kenny, it’s different.

      One thing that will be different is that Alonso will be more available to the public in Indycar. I look forward to the coverage leading up to the race.

  8. I’m excited. It’s huge for IndyCar. But motor racing in general, I think we’ve seen a little bit of people crossing over from NASCAR to IndyCar and vice-versa. But it’s been some time since we’ve seen someone coming in from Formula One.

    No offence Alexander Rossi. Or Max Chilton. Or Takuma Sato. Or Sebastian Bourdais. :)

    1. Shaun Robinson (@)
      13th April 2017, 12:02

      Haha. Although, was Rossi really ‘from’ F1? A couple of test sessions and free practice sessions for team green, hardly counts in my opinion.

  9. Shaun Robinson (@)
    13th April 2017, 12:03

    Bernie must be hating this! Brilliant!

Comments are closed.