Only one driver in motorsports’ history holds what is known as the triple crown. This most difficult of multi discipline achievements means winning the Indy500, the Le Mans 24 hour and the Monaco GP. British driver Graham Hill completed all three. There is an alternative definition of motorsports’ triple crown which replaces the single F1 Monaco race with a driver winning an entire F1 championship.
Which ever version is accepted only Graham Hill has achieved this most coveted feat. 19 other drivers have won Monaco and either the Indy500 or the Le Mans 24 with the most recent being Fernando Alonso claiming his 24 hour race victory in 2018 and 2019.
Fernando came close in Indy500
The Spanish F1 world champion first drove the Indianapolis 500 in 2017, where he drove for McLaren-Honda-Andretti. He qualified 5th and led the race for 24 laps on four occasions. Fernando retired with 27 laps to go with an engine failure while running in P7.
Alonso returned again in 2019 with McLaren yet the inexperience of the team led to an error converting inches to centimetres caused the team to improperly set his car ride height for qualifying.
This together with incorrect gear ratio’s saw the Spanish champion fail to qualify for the race.
Fernando made a third attempt in 2020 this time with Arrow McLaren SP. Again the race was set to disappoint as Fernando finished P21 following slow pit stops and clutch issues.
Alonso says Indycars now too heavy
Fernando Alonso recently ruled himself out of another Indy500 attempt in the near future stating, “The last two attempts in Indy [participating in 2020 and watching in 2021] with the aeroscreen made me feel the car [is] a little bit different, and talking with some of the colleagues there definitely the cars are more difficult to drive and difficult to follow each other. So it is less fun,” said Fernando.
However McLaren’s Indycar team these days has more experience in running their cars and announced a brand new facility for their American operation set to open in 2023.
In the past two seasons Arrow McLaren SP have had both cars in the top 10 and intend to ad a third for the biggest single seater motor racing event in the America’s.
In a recently released team video, McLaren’s CEO Zak Brown reveals he “could see” one of his Formula One drivers, Lando Norris, racing the Indy500 in the future.
McLaren drivers can flow both ways
Brown believes his driver flow could be in both directions across the Atlantic. At present the team fields Pato O’Ward and has signed Indy champion driver of 2021 Alex Palou. Further, Danniel Ricciardo was recently signed a third driver for the formula one team
Brown is overt when he claims, “Lando’s mentioned he’d like to do the Indy 500 one day,” said the McLaren Racing CEO in a video published by the team.
“And of course, one of my first days on the job was bringing over Fernando Alonso to do the Indy 500, which was such an awesome experience for everybody.
“So yeah, you know, the calendars are pretty crazy these days, but I think racing drivers like to drive racing cars and, yeah, I could see that day happening.”
F1 and Indy500 clash in recent years
Indy500 was run on the same Sunday as the Monaco GP in 2022 and is scheduled for the same weekend again in 2023. The last time F1 and Indy500 did not complete on the same day was in 2021.
Even were the events to be separated, the Indy500 build up requires a significant more commitment than for a Formula One weekend. The event is nick named “the month of May”, as
Indy month begins as follows:-
Rookie test April 20th
Open test April 20th
Open test April 24th
The the track opens again on May 17th and has practice sessions each day until Sunday 20th where qualifying takes place. The Indy500 is then run the following week,
It seems almost impossible given the current F1 schedule for a driver to cross the Atlantic and have the best opportunity to take part in all the preparation required for the Indy500.
Daniel Ricciardo who was sacked this season does have the Monaco GP under his belt already and would have been a good shout to spend some time in the states, testing for McLaren who may be the only team in the foreseeable future capable of offering a driver the most exclusive prize in global motorsport.