Fernando Alonso believes that former McLaren boss Ron Dennis would have blocked his bid to join the grid for the 101st Indianapolis 500.
Dennis announced in November that he had been forced out of McLaren after more than 35 years at the helm of the F1 team and company, overseeing a number of championship wins and the growth of its road car division.
Dennis was replaced by American businessman Zak Brown, whose efforts to secure Alonso a ride for the Indy 500 led to Wednesday’s shock announcement, the Spaniard entering as part of a joint effort between McLaren, Honda and Andretti Autosport.
Speaking in Thursday’s FIA press conference in Bahrain, Alonso admitted that he did not think Dennis would have agreed to let him take part in the ‘500 and miss the Monaco Grand Prix had he still been in charge of McLaren.
“I guess not. I think Zak is a man that has a bigger vision than other team principals or bosses that I have had,” Alonso said.
“He sees motorsport differently, he sees McLaren bigger, not only concentrated in Formula 1. McLaren won Le Mans a couple of times, won the Indy 500 a couple of times as well.
“I think he’s a true racer so it’s great McLaren and Zak joined forces last year, that’s a good thing.”
Alonso’s entry to the ‘500 comes at a time when McLaren’s F1 operation is struggling on-track, with the two-time world champion seemingly resigned to another year of making up the numbers.
However, he stressed that McLaren’s struggles did not influence his decision to join the grid at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, instead relishing the chance to try and win one of motorsport’s biggest events.
“It’s true, it’s a good motivation. The possibility to win a big race, a big trophy like the Indy 500 in the middle of a year is like winning a world championship in one weekend,” Alonso said.
“You have two possibilites in one year. It’s very attractive, but it’s not that it came to our mind because this year we are struggling or the last two years we are not competitive.”
Alonso did, however, admit that he would not have agreed to miss Monaco for the ‘500 had he been in contention for the championship.
“If the car was competitive this year and we were 43 points together with the other two guys you could not afford to lose 25 points possibility by missing one race,” Alonso said.
“So probably it would be different if we were competitive.”