MANAMA, April 13 (Reuters) - Fernando Alonso’s Formula One rivals have applauded the Spaniard’s decision to race in this year’s Indianapolis 500 instead of the Monaco Grand Prix, while ruling out doing anything similar.
Mercedes’ triple world champion Lewis Hamilton told reporters at the Bahrain Grand Prix on Thursday that it was a “pretty cool” move.
“I wouldn’t miss out any of the races in Formula One,” he added, although the Briton did express a desire to ride a MotoGP bike and race in NASCAR one day.
Alonso’s Belgian rookie team mate Stoffel Vandoorne joked that he had decided to enter the Spa 24 Hours sportscar race on home soil instead of the Hungarian Grand Prix.
Mexican Sergio Perez said there was no question about where to race as far as he was concerned.
”I wouldn’t miss Monaco to go to Indianapolis,“ he told Reuters. ”Monaco for me is the most special weekend of the season, especially now that we have new cars, more loads, faster through the corners. I am so much looking forward to it.
“But at the same time I think it’s a great challenge for Fernando.”
Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg, a Le Mans winner when that sportscar race did not clash with anything, said his situation had been completely different to Alonso’s at McLaren.
“I would have never done it if I had to miss a race, especially Monaco,” he told reporters. “Quite a big decision, big news obviously... I am a bit surprised like everybody about this situation.”
“It sounds like a big challenge but obviously Fernando likes challenges.”
Frenchman Romain Grosjean, who races for the U.S.-owned Haas team but for whom Monaco is currently a home race until France returns next year, said he was fully focused on F1 and questioned Alonso’s priorities.
“I wouldn’t skip a race, and especially Monaco,” he said.
“I‘m surprised he can skip a race and say, ‘I‘m going to do another race’. It’s great for motorsport having a driver from Formula One going to Indianapolis, but you can do that when you’ve finished.”
McLaren have failed to score any points in two races this season and last won a race in 2012, leaving double champion Alonso frustrated with their lack of success.
Grosjean’s Danish team mate Kevin Magnussen, whose father Jan has competed in America and at Le Mans, said he understood the Spaniard’s approach.
“I can see that with his situation it makes sense and it’s a really cool thing to do,” he said. “So I can understand it.” (Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ken Ferris)