McLaren racing director Eric Boullier has said the decision to race at the Indy 500 next month is much more than a PR stunt.
Fernando Alonso will miss the Monaco Grand Prix in order to race in the US and try and secure the second jewel of the Triple Crown that he has set his heart on winning.
The news has brought a much-need distraction to McLaren as they try to get to the bottom of their problems with Honda, but Boullier revealed that it is more to do with keeping Alonso's competitive streak alive.
"Some people have said it's PR, hiding, a smokescreen, whatever – but it's also for him to keep his motivation," said Boullier.
"It's not money. It's not lifestyle. This guy is competitive in everything he's doing, even when he's going out next Sunday racing go-karts at his track – he will be as competitive as this Sunday or 10 years ago.
"He is very competitive, this is one of his talents. You don't want to break it or lose it, you don't want it to die, because it's his fire, his passion inside him.
"And the only way to keep this alive is to give him sometime a bit of fresh air and allow him to do something which is very radical, but something where we get this excitement and will revive this competitiveness, let's say."