The month of May will soon close with perhaps the greatest race on earth, the Indianapolis 500 and the race this year has an extra layer of excitement to it as Formula 1 Champion Fernando Alonso aims to win the second part of Motorsports triple crown…
The Indianapolis 500 began in 1911 and this year marks the 101st running. Since then, many drivers have battled it out to have their name and face on the famous Borg Warner trophy. As we all know, Fernando Alonso will be one of the 33 drivers who will take part in the great race. He and McLaren have teamed up with Andretti Autosport and Honda to form McLaren-Honda-Andretti. It is a big ask to win the race at your first attempt, but it can be done. Last year former Manor Marussia driver Alexander Rossi won the race at his first attempt after he and strategist Bryan Herta pulled off an unbelievable fuel saving strategy. Whilst Alonso will have had less oval experience than Rossi, the Californian did show that you can win it at attempt number one.
“The Indy 500 for an IndyCar driver means life. You win, you become part of a very select group of guys that put their faces and names on that trophy.”
2013 Indy 500 Champion Tony Kanaan
Alonso and Rossi are not the first drivers from F1 to attempt the great race. The most notable are perhaps Nigel Mansell, Jim Clark and Graham Hill. Mansell left Williams in 1992 to join Newman-Haas for the 1993 IndyCar season and for a late race caution he would have won that years 500. Clark won the race in 1965 and Hill is the only driver to have won Le Mans, Indy and Monaco, the races that make up the triple crown. Hill won Indianapolis in 1966. Alonso will have to go some way to winning it this year, but with the support he has had and the talent the Spaniard holds it is not impossible.
“It’s the biggest sporting event in the world. I’ve done the parade for Le Mans, I’ve done quite a few things and they are all really cool but this was just another level, and I don’t think I will ever kind of experience something like that for the first time again so it was very special to be a part of it especially on the 100th running.”
2016 Indy 500 Champion Alexander Rossi
As well as drivers after their first win, there are several drivers after another 500 victory. Rossi is joined by Helio Castroneves, Scott Dixon, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Tony Kanaan and more who want to taste the milk once again. All these guys are with IndyCar’s powerhouse teams. Hunter-Reay and Rossi with Andretti. Kanaan and Dixon with Ganassi and Castroneves with Penske. The last time one of these teams didn’t win the 500 was in 2013 when Kanaan won the race with the now defunct KV Racing team. Independant teams have won two of this years five IndyCar races this year so it would not be impossible to see someone like James Hinchcliffe with Schmidt Peterson win the race. And remember, Hinch took pole here last year…
There are many other drivers to watch out for. Juan-Pablo Montoya is back with Penske for another shot at the 500, teammates Will Power, Simon Pagenaud and Josef Newgarden are all seeking their first win at the legendary speedway. The other Andretti drivers of Takuma Sato, Marco Andretti and rookie Jack Harvey all must have a shot at the victory. So many out there want it. But only one will get it. And there are 33 of them that want it. The full entry list is below, courtesy of http://www.indycar.com/
“The speeds are so high and you need to trust a lot the car, when you approach the corner still flat out with the g-forces, the compression and the banking, it’s certainly a new experience so lets see what we can do”
Two Time Formula 1 World Champion Fernando Alonso
The Indianapolis 500 can make or break a drivers dream. The drivers often say that it is the track that chooses you to win on that day. It is one of Motorsport’s biggest challenges. For those that do win the race, they will forever be an Indy 500 champion, and become a legend of their sport. Whether it is Alonso this year taking that first time win, or Castroneves taking his fourth win, one thing is always guaranteed. It will be the greatest spectacle in racing.