Motor racing: Indy 500 win would be blue-chip stock: Fernando Alonso

McLaren F1 driver Fernando Alonso, who has two world championships to his name, is in training for the Indianapolis 500, which he sees as a bigger challenge than the Le Mans 24 Hours endurance race. The Spaniard is aiming to emulate the late Graham H
McLaren F1 driver Fernando Alonso, who has two world championships to his name, is in training for the Indianapolis 500, which he sees as a bigger challenge than the Le Mans 24 Hours endurance race. The Spaniard is aiming to emulate the late Graham Hill by winning the Triple Crown.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LEEDS (Alabama) • Double Formula One world champion Fernando Alonso sees next month's Indianapolis 500 as a bigger challenge than the Le Mans 24 Hours endurance race as he seeks to win motorsport's famed Triple Crown.

"The biggest task is definitely the Indy 500 for a Formula One driver," the Spaniard told reporters on a visit to Barber Motorsport Park in Leeds, Alabama, United States, on Sunday.

"I think it's quite different. It's challenging... the level of downforce, the feeling with the car, running with a car that is not symmetric on the straights, on braking. Traffic I think is a big thing."

Alonso has set his sights on becoming only the second driver after the late Briton Graham Hill to win the Formula One championship, Indy and Le Mans.

The McLaren driver, who will miss the showcase Monaco Grand Prix to race at the famed Brickyard on May 28 for the first time, has no experience of Le Mans either but indicated that would have to wait until after Formula One.

The 35-year-old felt that the French endurance race, won by current Renault F1 driver Nico Hulkenberg with Porsche in 2015, would be an easier leap because the cars were more similar.

"Some of the F1 drivers that jump into the Le Mans car, they have no difficulties in terms of adapting," said Alonso, whose current McLaren contract expires at the end of the year.

"The 24 Hours is a little different, it's a more relaxed race, you can do it at an older age."

Alonso was in Alabama with McLaren boss Zak Brown, who said he would like to see a McLaren- Honda competing at Indianapolis every year, to meet the Andretti Autosport Team who will run his Indy car.

"I'm with the best team possible for this type of lessons that I need to learn. I'm also with coach (and 2003 Indy winner) Gil de Ferran, which I'm sure will be very, very useful for all these new things that I need to learn," he said.

McLaren won Le Mans in 1995 but Brown said it was "very early days" to contemplate a return.

"Our automotive group will make the decision, but nothing has been discussed. I think Le Mans is a massive race like the Indy 500," he said.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 25, 2017, with the headline 'Indy 500 win would be blue-chip stock: Alonso'. Print Edition | Subscribe