Fernando Alonso says he’s relishing the opportunity to race in Monaco after missing out last season having opted to take on the Indianapolis 500.

The two-time Formula 1 world champion secured a deal with McLaren-Honda-Andretti to take on his rookie attempt at the Indy 500 last year, which clashed with the Monaco Grand Prix, as Jenson Button stepped in for McLaren alongside Stoffel Vandoorne.

Alonso, who has clinched victory in Monaco on two occasions, will return to action at Monte Carlo this year and is curious to see how his Renault-powered McLaren can stack up against its rivals having been a consistent midfield fighter in the opening five races of 2018.

“Heading back to Monaco will be really exciting after a little break last year,” Alonso said. “I loved the Indy experience of course, but Monaco is also a really special place to go racing, and it’s easy to see why it’s such a famous venue for a grand prix.

“It’s one of the most technically challenging circuits of the year simply because of the level of skill and concentration you need to get around lap after lap 78 times, as well as negotiating the traffic, strategy, weather and everything else this crazy race throws at you.

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“I’m looking forward to getting behind the wheel there for the first time in two years and seeing how our car performs. For sure, we know the limitations of our package, and a slow-speed track such as this requires a totally unique set-up compared to anywhere else on the calendar, but it’s up to everyone to adapt and get the most out of our equipment.”

McLaren’s biggest weakness so far this year has been its qualifying pace but a raft of updates debuted in Spain saw Alonso break into Q3 at Circuit de Catalunya for the first time this year.

With qualifying all-important in Monaco given the city street track’s limited overtaking opportunities, Alonso hopes the tracks “level playing field” characteristics can help McLaren build on its solid start to the season.

“Monaco is one of those tracks that tends to level the playing field a little and it’s a bit like throwing a dice,” he said. “As we saw in Spain, even if you qualify well it doesn’t mean you won’t fall victim to drama which can change things around.

“So, we need to maximise everything on Saturday, and then fight hard on Sunday to earn as many points as possible.”

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