“Nice to be competitive again!” Fernando Alonso fights for Indy 500 win until engine failure
Fernando Alonso
Posted By: James Allen  |  28 May 2017   |  11:39 pm GMT  |  103 comments

Fernando Alonso enjoyed his first Indy 500, in which he led for a while and was in contention for victory in the closing stages when the Honda engine failed on his car, an experience he is all too familiar with from the last two season of F1.

His Andretti Racing stable mate Takuma Sato, a former F1 driver, went onto win the race in a Honda powered car, while another ex F1 driver Max Chilton finished fourth.

Alonso was competitive throughout his first Indy 500 experience, qualifying fifth and having several stints running at the front. He was well placed on strategy going into the final 30 laps, but his engine blew 21 laps from the end, when he was lying ninth.

Fernando Alonso

“I’m obviously disappointed not to finish the race because every race you compete, you want to be at the chequered flag. Today it was not possible,’ said Alonso.

“It was a great experience, the last two weeks. I came here to prove myself, to challenge myself,

“I know that I can be as quick as anyone in an F1 car, I didn’t know if I can be as quick as anyone in an IndyCar.

“It was nice to have this competitive feeling, leading the Indy 500.”

The dangers of Indy were again made clear, as they had been with Sebastien Bourdais’ accident in qualifying, when pole siter Scott Dixon had a huge airborne crash, landing head first into a retaining wall at over 200mph. He walked away.

Alonso has said that Indy remains unfinished business and that he will definitely return one day, but his priority for next season is to get into a competitive F1 car and challenge for the world championship again.

Jenson Button

In his absence, Jenson Button and Stoffel Vandoorne had a chance to score points in Monaco, with a competitive showing in qualifying, but both were involved in incidents during the race, Button getting a penalty on his one-off appearance in F1 this year, while engine penalties on Saturday meant he had to start from the back of the grid, making it a frustrating weekend.

McLaren remain pointless, in 10th place in the F1 Constructors’ Championship.

What did you think of Alonso’s Indy advantures? Leave your comments below

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Alonso drove a fine race And he conducted himself like the professional he is. Bravo! Hope he comes back for 102.


Alonso made it the most enjoyable race (for me and my wife) in a long time. I hope he comes back to The USA next year.

But…he had a GP2 hat. Do better next year Andretti Autosport and maybe I’ll buy one.


I’m happy for Sato. He qualified and drove well. Good win for Honda.

F1 and especially McLaren are going the way of “Starbucks” thanks in part to the likes of Liberty Media and Mr. Brown. Not good for the sport. In Monaco, the Mclaren hospitality pit was something to behold and not in a positive way.


FA has no rush to go back to Indy as the average driver age is a lot higher. I think we were told that winner Sato was 40.
If FA went to run in the Indy series in a few years he would probably win the title as there are many conventional tracks as well where the car probably feels like a big old bus.


@James, any idea waht Ron Dennis is upto these days, does he have a 25% stake in McLaren?

I think the bosses at McLaren (now) seem too soft on Honda compared to Ron. Its more of a partnership and Honda calling the shots rather than McLaren calling the shots as it was with McLaren-Mercedes or McLaren-Honda 2015-16. Noticed Ted called the motorhome Honda’s motorhome and not McLaren’s.

Zak Brown is good and likable, but he is a business man/marketing man not a pure bred racer as Ron or Frank.

Your thoughts on this ?


He’s a racer, give him time


I hear the FIA is considering giving Fernando a 15-place grid penalty in Canada for his blown Honda engine at Indianapolis.


What an outstanding job by Alonso – I clearly hope that we will see him back next year in his hunt for the triple crown!
Big congrats also to Sato for the win – such a sympathetic and dedicated racing driver. Still think though that Alonso’s chances to win at Indy500 and Le Mans to success with his Tripe Crown venture is higher than Sato’s to come back and win F1 in MC! ;o) I would actually enjoy to see JP Montoya come to Le Mans and battle it out, as think he is the one with most chances to win the triple crown out of the current racing driver generation still active. And Alonso is by default very welcome to join in. Heck, they could even make it together! ;o)


Re: Alonso popular in U.S. – Not true. Not that he isn’t a great driver or a great guy. Just that F1 in the U.S. still largely unknown. No different than Phil Hill in the 1960’s, when he was popular in Europe.


The simplest things usually get me. Even the panic and tone of the voices over the radio in Indy 500 was more exciting than F1 radio chatter.


I think it’s time for Fernando to consider a break from F1. It’d be the sports loss, but the sport cannot offer one of the best drivers a decent car. That’s the reality. The way the championship is structured, team’s don’t need two great drivers, they just need one great and good driver to be the mule, to win the titles. If F1 changed the structure so two great drivers in a team would lead to greater success, it would make sense. We basically have a Mercedes engine that is miles ahead of every other engine, and until a team came up with a better car (Ferrari) there was no hope.

Renault have had as much time as Ferrari and Mercedes and look at them, they are still nowhere. They had to delay their engine update again, instead of having it in Canada, or at the start of the year. Honda have just embarrassed themselves year after year, but if you look at Renault then you realise maybe it is not as glaringly bad. To me the sport should allow for Honda or Renault to close the gaps on engines, give them extra engines, or extra testing, instead of more years of just pouring money into failure. So Renault and Honda can just dump tens of millions more into engine development and by the time they get good engines then the rules change again? I’m sure they’ll hold an amazing talk about this, and nothing will happen, apart from rich guy #1 patting rich guy #2 on the back and vice versa.

For Alonso, why peddle around with Honda for another year, when we don’t know if they have the sense or dignity to change their ways? He could move to Renault, sure, but if they are still miles behind Ferrari or Mercedes it will be the same old story. He had a good race at Indy, he was certainly the only rookie to do so well having only started weeks before. He doesn’t need to prove anything about driver ability in F1. Take a break, do something great elsewhere, why waste your time just being a number in a sport that doesn’t value it’s stars. Nico and Jenson seem pretty happy.


Overall a win-win for all parties from a publicity perspective. Fernando’s stock is going to be even higher (and it’s already very high) after he acclimatised so impressively to the Indy 500 and racing on ovals. A shame to see him retire (because of an engine failure!), that was unfair and he deserved better. But apparently Honda had quite a few failures in the build-up because they’re turning the wick up to try and compete with Chevrolet (source: Marshall Pruett at RACER magazine – I saw a YouTube clip). Definitely the closest I’ve followed Indy 500 since the mid-2000s; haven’t really followed it at all since then.

Really pleased for Takuma Sato’s victory. Taku has always been a lovely man, a quick driver, and a racer who leaves it all on the track. However, he’s often been his own worst enemy as his overtaking moves are risky and at times even downright dangerous. In F1, he had some strong seasons of real maturity (2004, 2006 & 2007) and others which made you almost wonder how he managed to get a super licence (2002 & 2005). I think this was partly a legacy of his career path background; Taku came to motor racing late in life (late teens/early 20s) so he didn’t smooth off the rough edges that most racers do in karting. For all his faults you couldn’t help but cheer for the guy though, and I’m happy that he’s gone and won Indy. He never won Monaco in F1 so there’ll be no Triple Crown but he did win the blue-riband Macau F3 race so maybe that’s two “classics” on the board now (three if you include the F3 Masters race at Zandvoort too)! Maybe it’s a useful reminder as to how good he could be when it all clicked for him in F1.

Credit too to Max Chilton for making it an F1 weekend to remember over the pond with his commendable consistency, leading the race for several laps and ending with an eventual 4th place finish.


I would have thought another failure of an entirely different Honda engine must be the final straw for Alonso, especially when he was doing so well and could have won the race. I now expect him to look elsewhere for power in 2018.

The rather cutting comments from Zak Brown seem to indicate that McLaren too might have finally lost patience with Honda and are looking to a parting of the ways.

The fact that the hapless Jenson Button was hit with a 15 place grids penalty in what is likely to be his only race of the year just adds to the agony.

There will be many more penalties to come now that Honda have admitted that their MGU-H can only last two races !


The man is such a champion. It can’t have escaped the powers that be at Liberty Media how much attention Alonso’s adventure at the 500 garnered. He’s more popular in the US than Hamilton, at least in the racing world. A genius move on his part. The Boards at FIAT and Mercedes Benz must also be reevaluating Alonso’s marketing worth in the worlds largest car market.

James, do you think Liberty Media has the wherewithal and the will to push either of those teams to make a seat available for him? They must wish to have one of the greatest drivers ever mixing it up at the pointy end of the field instead of where he’s languishing now. Toto Wolff seems to be a fan, though Bottas seems to be doing a good job, which leaves Ferrari and possibly Renault if Honda can’t get its act together.

There must be a cabal at Ferrari that knows exactly what he’s capable of and what he could do in the second SF70. Do you think there’s any chance of his move being engineered into either of the top teams?


Great performance by Fernando, was happy to see him display his abilities at the business end. There was a lot of hype, all positive, nice to see he lived up to it.


The man is such a champion. It can’t have escaped the powers that be at Liberty Media the level of attention that Alonso’s 500 adventure garnered. Genius move on his part, he’s now as big in the US as HAM, certainly in the racing world.

The boards at FIAT and Mercedes must be looking at his popularity in the worlds biggest car market with renewed interest.

James, do you think that Liberty Media has the wherewithal and will to push for Alonso to get a seat in either of those teams? The show is certainly missing him mixing with it at the front of the field. They’re running out of time to make it happen. Toto Wolff is a fan and there must be those at Ferrari that know exactly what he’s capable of in the car and wish for him to come back.

Any chance of it happening?


I don’t watch indycar racing that often anymore but the Alon500 had me glued to the screen. It was awesome, he did so well. OK it’s a major shame his engine blew but his performance was amazing. Awesome passes, aggressive driving mixed with intelligence. Superb.


Congratulations to Sato. A Honda win was already predicted as they had the best car but Alonso wouldn’t have won anyway. There were better drivers out there and one of them won. As always there is too much hype around one over rated driver.


Sorry Rob, must disagree with you regarding Alonso being overrated.


What a delightful fella you must be to hang around with.


i couldn’t make out what all the hype was about, until I saw who’d won and the other drivers who’d taken part in the race. It’s an event for old men and those who have never or would never make it in F1. It comes as no surprise there are so many incidents during the race. If F1 had as many, it would probably be banned.


Yes, driving at 360 kph, inches away from 32 other almost equal cars for longer than 2 hours is for old, talent less guys


@ferggsa – it evident that it doesn’t take a huge amount of skill to take part in the race. The winner and 4th place were both failures in F1 and the number of crashes indicates there were several drivers who were not up to the job. The track staff received a lot of praise for their work, no doubt due to them having plenty of practice running around after the numerous incidents on US tracks. Would the tv audience be as large without the crashes, which were apparently shown in a loop at every opportunity.


oh…and of course,…congratulations to Mr.Sato. always admired him as an F1 racer and it’s fantastic that he has put a Japanese face on the Borg-Warner.


I’ve been watching Indy since 1960 and I don’t think I’ve ever missed one. I’ve been very amused over the last weeks at how some F1 fans have dismissed Indy as “just an oval track” and not much of a challenge. In fact, it’s one of the hardest races in the world to win. it has also claimed the lives of a great number of racers
and as we saw, it was a matter of inches that Scott Dixon didn’t join them. I was very excited that Alonso was going to Indy but being a long-time Indy fan, I didn’t expect him to win first time out. I have to say though, that Alonso impressed! His passes were smooth and his patience displayed at the right time spoke to his racecraft and professionalism. I think if he hadn’t lost the engine it was entirely possible that a win was on the cards for him. Congratulations Alonso….you acquitted yourself in every way….you were courageous, fast and very importantly in America, you got the fans to love you! Cheers to you!


This may be his future if he does not get a good F1 car for 2018. I am not sure he would be earning as much as in F1, but that’s life. Personality aside, he is one of the best F1 drivers ever.

Torchwood Mobile

Great job to Fernando and Max.

Congratulations to Takuma Sato. As well as a great victory, you pulled Honda’s backside from the own goal, that was the engine failure on Alonso’s car.

While I still love watching Monaco – although I only caught it from lap 55 – from comments in the other article, I feel having millions of eyes on the Monaco F1 with no overtakes, and the spectacle of the Indy 500, on the same day, may have been an own goal for F1.

Mansell Mania

I still bow to Alonso when I see him on TV. My wife thinks I’m crazy though…..haha

But its a bit of irony that the engine didn’t last!

And as for Jenson? Was all that really worth it? haha At least he’s qualified for the World Tr Series!


I have never been a big Alonso fan, but even so (as a North American) I wanted to see him do well and especially, to see him do well while enjoying the experience. His performance as a rookie all month was exemplary, but beyond that the skill he showed on track combined with the genuine enthusiasm he openly displayed about everything “Indy” during every interview did what millions of dollars of advertising had failed to do with regards to uniting auto racing enthusiasts from separate sides of the pond.

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