McLaren driver Fernando Alonso has not been at his best in Formula One for a few seasons now. The Spaniard is set to try his hand at the Indianapolis 500 next month. The former Ferrari driver will miss this year's Monaco Grand Prix to compete at the Indy 500 and is set to be joined by a former Formula One rival in Juan Pablo Montoya.
Montoya, who is a former NASCAR and now part-time IndyCar Series driver, spent three full seasons in the IndyCar Series winning five races including the Indianapolis 500 twice, in 2000 and 2015. The Colombian has been focusing on spending time with his family and helping his 12-year old son with his racing career.
For this season, Montoya will drive the No. 22 Team Penske Chevrolet as part of a one-off deal. The news that Alonso would also be competing in this year's Indy 500 certainly took the 41-year old by surprise.
"Good. Really good to be honest. In a way, it was kind of weird, but it was really good. The opportunity with Penske came to do this and I thought it would be ... for long-term would be the best thing for me and it's good. I'm really happy," Autoweek quoted Montoya as saying.
"If you would have told me I was going to win a race ever against Alonso, it would be an endurance race or something, not in Indy to be honest. I think it's great. I think having Fernando is going to be a really good day for motorsports, not only for IndyCar, but I think the attention overall for seeing Fernando and myself and everybody running Indy is going to be really big."
Montoya and Alonso will be competing against each other for the first time since the 2006 United States Grand Prix. The duo had shared podium eight times during their Formula One careers so far. The Colombian expected the crowd and the traffic to be one of the biggest challenges for Alonso.
"The biggest challenge is going to be first he has never done a race that is that long, and the traffic. He is going to have to learn and understand the traffic. I think if he is patient enough through the week and builds to it, I think he will be fine. He is a really good driver. He has really good teammates," Montoya said.
"I think the good thing – with a full day of testing – he will get a bit of an idea of what he needs. Just good to have a day with no pressure where you can build up and you understand what it takes."
The 101st edition of Indianapolis 500 is set to take place on May 28 with Alonso's first test scheduled for May 3. The Spaniard is having a torrid season in Formula One and a strong performance at the Indy 500 could give him the confidence he requires to change his luck in F1.