One of the best-kept secrets in a long time in global motorsports exploded on Twitter and in the media Wednesday when it was confirmed early in the morning, Eastern time, that two-time Formula One world champion Fernando Alonso will skip the Monaco Grand Prix this year for McLaren-Honda and instead race in the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil on May 28 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
McLaren will enter a Dallara-Honda for Alonso’s first start in “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing. The car will be prepared by Andretti Autosport, which also guided rookie Alexander Rossi to victory in the 100th Indianapolis 500 last May.
Rossi’s victory was a shock, coming after a brave fuel-saving strategy on the closing laps. Alonso’s decision to come to Indy created seismic shock waves across the motorsports world. Alonso’s announcement trended globally and in the United States on Twitter.
A sampling of the reaction from Twitter and media reports:
Fernando Alonso (@alo_oficial): Excited. I love RACING. I'm just a RACER. Indy 500 here we come!!!
Marco Andretti (@MarcoAndretti): Welcome to the team @alo_oficial. This is big for the sport!
Alexander Rossi (@AlexanderRossi): Welcome to the crew @alo_oficial. Look forward to working with you next month...
Ryan Hunter-Reay (@RyanHunterReay): Welcome to the team @alo_oficial!! The epitome of a true racer. Huge undertaking, big crossover taking it head on. Look fwd to working w/you
Scott Dixon (@scottdixon9): This is Mega! Welcome Alonso. Your going to love it! #IndyCar #Indy500
James Hinchcliffe (@hinchtown): Between news of @alo_oficial running the #Indy500 and all the United Airlines memes, the internet is pretty awesome today.
Tony Kanaan (@TonyKanaan): Welcome to the greatest race in the world @alo_oficial. You will have a lot fun.
Josef Newgarden (@josefnewgarden): Welcome @alo_oficial and @McLarenF1 to the greatest race in the world. #Indy500
Juan Pablo Montoya (@jpmontoya): What good news to have @alo_oficial on @IndyCar for the #Indy500. There we will see each other.
Oriol Servia (@oriolservia): Hey @jimmiejohnson, I have a feeling this @alo_oficial announcement has increased a little itch you may have... ;)
Simon Pagenaud (@simonpagenaud): Fantastic news this am! Excited to race @alo_oficial & @McLarenF1 in #indianapolis500 with @FollowAndretti this year! #alonsoinindy
Graham Rahal (@GrahamRahal): Not gonna lie, pretty pumped to see @alo_oficial in @indycar for the #Indy500. Nice work by @ZBrownCEO & @McLarenF1! Welcome Fernando!
Conor Daly (@conordaly22): Who is taking @alo_oficial to Long's Bakery first? #Indy500 #tradition
Max Chilton (@maxchilton): Welcome to the fastest motor race in the world @alo_oficial!Great to have a world champion on the grid.
Indianapolis Motor Speedway (@IMS): "This is not fake news." Here @IMS, Hulman Co. President & CEO Mark Miles welcomes @alo_oficial to @IndyCar & the #Indy500!
John Oreovicz (@indyoreo): @alo_oficial running the Indy 500 is the biggest IndyCar driver announcement since @nigelmansell for the 1993 season.
Andrew Benson (@andrewbensonf1): @alo_oficial what an absolute legend. Could he win Indy 500 at first attempt? Graham Hill did it. ALO wants to win Monaco, Indy & Le Mans
Andretti Autosport (@FollowAndretti): Happy Wednesday! We have some BIG news for you this morning. Welcome to our #Indy500 family @McLarenF1 @McLarenIndy & @alo_oficial!
David Malsher (@DavidMalsher), motorsport.com: “Fernando Alonso’s presence would have caused a stir if he had simply visited Indy – or indeed, any IndyCar race – as a mere spectator. His plan to actually compete in the 101st Indianapolis 500, foregoing the Monaco GP as Clark and Chapman did more than half a century ago, is beyond amazing. And, there is no way Alonso is doing this just for the experience. He’s deadly serious about trying to claim motorsport’s Triple Crown of Monaco (which he claimed with Renault in 2006 and McLaren in ’07), the Indy 500 and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.”
Tony DiZinno (@TonyDiZinno), NBCSports.com: “It’s hard to see this as anything other than a massive positive for a race where one extra driver can make a big difference. And for Alonso, it’s a masterstroke in terms of writing a chapter of his career where he knows he’s going into a big challenge, is taking it with open arms, and has the support of his team, his engine manufacturer and one of the most famous last names in motorsport all at his side. We don’t know where he’ll finish in May, but in terms of an announcement, Alonso, McLaren, Honda, Andretti and Indianapolis have already won.”
Jim Ayello (@JamesAyello), Indianapolis Star: “The legacy and luster of the Indianapolis 500 proved too alluring for Fernando Alonso to withstand any longer. The two-time Formula One champion and three-time runner-up could no longer resist the thrill of driving on motor sports’ grandest stage on this side of the Atlantic Ocean, even though it meant missing another monumental race.”
Laurence Edmondson (EdmondsonESPNF1), F1 Editor, ESPN.com: “If you had to pick a driver to represent Formula One at the Indy 500, it would be Fernando Alonso. Intelligent, determined and above all fast, Alonso has what it takes to adapt to a completely new car in a limited timeframe and be competitive.”
Chris Medland (@ChrisMedlandF1), RACER.com: “He will know the challenge facing him, but Alonso has all the tools he needs in order to be competitive at the Brickyard. Throughout various eras of Formula 1 he has proven himself adaptable to each type of chassis, boasting incredible sensitivity to the way his car evolves during a race, and being able to drive around its weaknesses with seemingly little impact on his speed. They are skills that command the highest respect from his rivals … Heading to the 500 isn't part of a swansong for Alonso, it's an opportunity to prove himself in a different arena. He will command instant respect, and earn it from any doubters once the flag drops. Whether his hunger for a competitive car is satisfied remains to be seen, but rest assured his presence will mean millions of international viewers will swap Monaco for Indianapolis on the Sunday evening to see how he gets on.”
Bruce Martin (@BruceMartin_500), Autoweek: “For those who think Alonso has no chance to be competitive or have a shot at winning the Indy 500, just refer to last year’s race when rookie driver Alexander Rossi scored a shocking victory in only his second oval race. And that first race came on the short oval at Phoenix Raceway -- not the four-cornered, high-speed 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Also, don’t forget about NASCAR Cup driver Kurt Busch’s impressive performance in the 98th Indianapolis 500 in 2014 when he finished sixth and was named Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year. It’s true, Busch makes a living driving in circles in NASCAR, but the stock car is much heavier and drives far differently than the much-faster Honda in the Verizon IndyCar Series.”
Michelle R. Martinelli (@MMartinelli4), USA TODAY: “The Indy 500 – scheduled for Sunday, May 28 – is also the same day as Formula One’s Monaco Grand Prix, but the iconic street race’s two-time winner explained he’s skipping it to chase something bigger. The Triple Crown of Motorsport: The Indy 500, the 24 Hours of Le Mans in France and the Monaco Grand Prix. It’s a daunting challenge for Alonso, but he said he’s “immensely excited,” comparing the Indy 500’s prestige to that of only the other two legs of the Triple Crown. If the 35-year-old driver can adjust – never having raced an Indy car or on a superspeedway – and win in Indianapolis, he’ll be one step closer to being only the second Triple Crown winner in racing history.”
Giles Richards (@Giles_Richards), The Guardian: “Whatever the ultimate rationale, and doubtless a complex combination of factors are at play here, it is impossible not to be thrilled at the chance to see Alonso take on the challenge of the Brickyard, and it is a bold decision from his team to allow him to do so – a new direction for them both and a shock that deserves not a little awe.”