Lewis Hamilton: Alonso will be best driver in 2017 Indy 500 field

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Lewis Hamilton believes that Fernando Alonso’s entry to the 101st Indianapolis 500 is a “tall order”, but has backed the two-time Formula 1 world champion to impress, believing he will be the best driver in the field.

Alonso announced on Wednesday that he would be missing the Monaco Grand Prix to enter the Indy 500 as part of a joint entry between McLaren, Honda and Andretti Autosport.

The news has been the talk of the F1 paddock ahead of this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix, with Hamilton being asked about his former teammate’s decision on Thursday.

The three-time world champion said he thought he would be challenging for Alonso given the different style of racing and lack of testing, but still thinks he will be the best driver in the field.

“It’s a completely different category so it’s a lot, lot different. I’ve never driven one of those tracks but it would be so different for us to go and do that,” Hamilton said.

“How a car’s setup, because it’s assymetric I think, the banking, how much you lift, how you use the tires, it takes us guys forever through these test days to learn how to operate these tires in the right window. 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.

“Jeez, you’ve got one of the best drivers in the world going there. For sure will be the best driver in the paddock.

“He just won’t have the experience that anyone would have, so I think it will be a very exciting challenge for him to see how strong he can fare against those who have all that experience.”

While Alonso is refusing to set any expectations for his bow at the ‘500 next month, the Spaniard is relishing the fact he has a chance of winning one of motorsport’s biggest races – something he would not have at Monaco given McLaren’s current struggles.

“Monaco is the biggest race of the calendar in Formula 1 and the event is amazing, not only the race on Sunday, the whole weekend is amazing,” Alonso said.

“The best result that we achieved was last year, fifth. I think we are little bit less competitive this year. We are maybe have the possibility to have another top five or top seven, whatever, it’s great to have some points.

“But I won a couple of times there and I’m a two-time world champion so to add fifth, seventh in Monaco, it will not change my life.

“In a way it’s impossible to compare to have the minimum chance to win the Indy 500 compared to fifth or sixth or seventh in Monaco. It’s much bigger the other possibility.”

NEOM McLaren Formula E announces Jake Hughes will join Rene Rast for 2023 season

McLaren Formula E Hughes
McLaren Racing
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Doubling down on their commitment to electric auto sports, McLaren Racing announced Jake Hughes will join Rene Rast to compete in the 2023 Formula E Series (FE), which completes their driver lineup.

The NEOM McLaren FE team was formed by the acquisition of the Mercedes-EQ Formula E team that won the 2021 and 2022 championships with Stoffel Vandoorne and Nyck de Vries behind the wheel.

“Today’s announcement feels like a long time coming,” said Ian James, managing director of NEOM McLaren Electric Racing in a release. “Since May this year, when we first announced McLaren Racing’s entry into Formula E, we have been working tirelessly to get in place the best possible team and structure for sustainable success.

“On the one hand, we have been working on the retention of the amazing talent that already was in place before going into the transitional phase. I’m proud to say I think we’ve done a great job on that front.

“On the other hand, we have been focusing on putting in place new processes and new talent – and the latter includes the drivers.”

The driver lineup clasps the two hands together.

Hughes brings 10 years racing experience in single seater cars, including a role with the acquired Mercedes-EQ team as a reserve and development driver for the past two seasons. He is the 2013 BRDC Formula 4 champion and has multiple wins in Formula 2, including two in 2020.

Announced in August, Rast joins the team after earning two podium finishes and six top-fives in 22 career Formula E starts for Audi Sport ABT before returning to the DTM Series last year. Rast’s best finish in Formula E came in the Puebla E Prix when he finished second to teammate Lucas di Grassi by less than a half second.

McLaren’s commitment to Formula E comes one year after they entered the Extreme E rally series in 2022 with Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour in the driver lineup. After a modest start to the season, the McLaren XE drivers crossed the finish line first in Round 4 in Chile, but were assessed a time penalty that dropped them to fifth. Last week in the season finale in Uruguay, they held onto a hard-earned second place finish.