The famous race will celebrate its 101st running in 2017 and Fernando Alonso is aiming to mark his debut with a victory.
The Spaniard will miss the Monaco Grand Prix in order to race in Indianapolis where he will drive for Andretti Autosport in an McLaren-branded, Honda-powered car.
And after the Russian Grand Prix on April 30, the 35-year-old will fly to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for his first chance to race on the legendary oval circuit.
As a true rookie in IndyCar racing, Alonso has been granted the chance for an extra day of practice but he will also be required to complete the Rookie Orientation Programme (ROP) which acts as a sort of driving test for first-timers at Indy 500.
Alonso has only been afforded the opportunity to drive in the States because of his F1 team’s lack of competitiveness in 2017 so far.
In the first three races of the year, he has failed to complete a single Grand Prix while his team-mate has only taken the chequered flag once.
When the McLaren has been running smoothly, Alonso has regularly been in the top 10 but has often been heard fuming over team radio over the lack of power in the car.
But one of his leading F1 rivals Lewis Hamilton believes his former McLaren team-mate has a great chance of stunning the world with an Indy500 win at his first attempt, even though it will be a huge challenge.
“It’s a completely different category,” Hamilton said.
“I’ve never driven one of those tracks so it would be so much different for us to go and do that: how the car is set up because it’s asymmetric, the banking, how much you lift, how you use the tyres.
“It takes us for forever through these test days to learn how to operate these tyres in the right window so I would imagine it’s not an easy thing to do in one go.
“It’s definitely a tall order in a short space of time.
“But you’ve got one of the best drivers in the world going there. For sure, he will be the best driver in the paddock, he just won’t have the experience that any of them will have.
“That’s the challenge for him – to go and see how strong he can be against those who have all that experience.”
Source : EXPRESS