“We all have a chance to win. Live the moment” – Fernando Alonso opens up on his Indy 500 chances
McLaren
Fernando Alonso
Posted By: James Allen  |  26 May 2017   |  9:52 am GMT  |  58 comments

by Jeff Pappone in Indianapolis for JA on F1

No matter what happens in the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing” on Sunday, two-time world champion Fernando Alonso plans to walk away from the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway with a smile.

The two-time Formula One world champion doesn’t have a plan or clear expectations for Sunday’s 101st running of the Indianapolis 500, he just wants to soak it all in.

“Enjoy the race, enjoy the moment, live in that moment,” Alonso responded when asked what success would look like on Sunday.

Fernando Alonso

“Obviously, so far we have been quite competitive — even fighting for the first row of the grid in qualifying — so I would like to remain that competitive in the race, but I don’t know maybe I will fall behind after 100 laps or whatever. I can’t be frustrated or sad at the end of the race because the whole event has been a fantastic experience, so enjoy the moment, that’s the target.”

The McLaren F1 driver who skipped the prestigious Monaco Grand Prix to try his luck in Indianapolis answered questions during the annual “Media Day” at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Thursday.

The throng of reporters crowding around Alonso during his entire one-hour appearance highlighted the magnitude of his decision to race at the famed “Brickyard.”

The question of the day was simple: Can Alonso drive the No. 29 McLaren Honda Andretti to the winner’s circle?

Fernando Alonso

“I know this is a race that everyone has a chance of winning; it’s an unpredictable race,” he said.

“Guys who maybe start 24th can be leading after 50 laps or whatever so that’s the good thing about this race. We all have a possibility, but I think I have a lower chance than some of the big names because I am lacking experience, but if I have a chance I will go for it. I will try to compensate for the lack of experience with good motivation and racing spirit.”

Alonso’s ability to get to grips with the tricky Indianapolis Motor Speedway impressed many and earned the Formula One driver added respect among his peers. Alonso’s determination and exceptional progress served for many as clear evidence that a victory could be in the cards, although it won’t come easy.

“It will be difficult,” said three-times Indianapolis 500 champion Dario Franchitti, now an advisor for the Ganassi Team.

“There are so many guys in there who are so strong so to expect him to beat them. It is a big ask but throw some strategy in there and it could definitely happen. He’s done a fantastic job getting up to speed and understanding traffic. We know his talent level, but he’s also a very intelligent driver. You can just tell he’s put a lot of thought and preparation into coming here. I’m interested to see how Alonso will go on Sunday, but I think he’ll do fine.”

The McLaren Honda Andretti driver starts Sunday’s race in the middle of Row 2 and fifth overall after making it into the “Fast Nine” in qualifying, which is IndyCar’s equivalent of Q3.

Although that performance raised expectations among fans and media, Alonso is trying to keep it all in perspective as race day approaches.

“Until Monday, no emotions are allowed to enter your mind — the mind is focused on the race there is no room for emotions,” he said.

“I think on Sunday I will have a better picture of how big the race is and the event in general. So far we have been so focused on the practice and the qualifying and the grandstands are not full yet so I think that will change a lot on Sunday. But it is huge event.”

Fernando Alonso

One area that may be a question mark is pitting under race conditions in a narrow and crowded pitlane, especially when the pace car is on track after incidents. In those periods, it is not uncommon for every car on track to dive into the pitlane simultaneously.

IndyCar pitboxes are also much closer together than those in Formula One, so getting in and out of the tight confines without incident is critical.

“Definitely, it is one of the risks in this race and we’ve seen many examples unfortunately, even last year [Andretti teammates] Ryan Hunter-Reay and Townsend Bell touched when they were leading,” Alonso said.

“We need to make sure we do the pitstops at the best performance possible but obviously with a safety margin. The race is very long and we need to make sure we do the pitstops okay.”

While he doesn’t have a set plan, Alonso knows the Indy 500 will unfold in a completely different way than grands prix, where the finishing order is often determined in the first few seconds of the race. It’s all about patience in the Indy 500.

“In F1 we are used to playing all our cards in the first couple of corners because the positions are defined after that and here it is very different,” Alonso said.

“I cannot say that I will play safe at the beginning of the race because everyone will take advantage of that so I need to keep it very open. If I can be running in a comfortable group I will be happy, if I am trailing behind the group, I will be calm, and be competitive later on in the race, and if I am competitive in the beginning, I will not slow down and lose places.”

One area where Alonso has received much advice is restarts, which can go a long way to determining the winner of the Indianapolis 500. Inevitably, an incident brings out the pace car late in the race, and winning or losing often hinges on getting a good restart once it heads back into the pits.

“You have to experience it yourself and improvise a little bit when things are happening,” he said.

“I think the first couple of restarts will be the best lessons. Whatever you plan will not be like the real thing, so the first couple I will learn improve and hopefully the last couple of restarts I will be a more experienced driver.”

Although he’s enjoyed the camaraderie in the IndyCar paddock and remarked in the more friendly attitude of rivals in IndyCar, Alonso also understands that the drivers who may have been helpful up to now, won’t be as generous once the green flag flies on the 500.

“Yeah, definitely this is racing,” Alonso said. “I will not be as nice as I was in the practice either.”

Fernando Alonso
Behind the scenes – observing Alonso

by Jeff Pappone

He arrived a few minutes after the Media Day started, but then stayed late to make up the time he missed. Overall, Fernando Alonso was open, relaxed and happy to answer every question thrown his way.

Before he arrived, the anticipation in the room grew as dozens of reporters gathered around the space reserved for the two time world champion. His spot at the centre of the wall was the only one reserved for a specific driver, as the series wanted to ensure that there was enough space for all the media expected to surround the McLaren Honda Andretti driver.

As he arrived on his golf cart at the North Chalet behind the Pagoda at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but stopped to sign a few autographs before entering the building. As he waded through the waiting phalanx of print, radio and television journalists, Alonso had to sit next to the table and not behind like the others because media had already staked out the spot and moved his chair.

All indications are that the Spanish driver has taken to the IndyCar scene well, engaging in a lively and wide ranging discussion.

About halfway through the session, he reached out and gently pushed a camera aside and politely asked if they could turn off the light that was shining directly in his eyes. It was not confrontational, just a request to help him be more comfortable. His press officer from Formula One did stop the proceedings once to ask the reporters encircling Alonso to give him a bit more room.

For some of the time, he sat playing with the watch he had removed from his wrist — he even dropped it once and needed a reporter to pick it up for him. He sat with his arms crossed for several minutes at a time but it was relaxed. In the end, he took questions from all sides and behind, smiling and joking as he answered.

He even commented about the increased interaction with reporters at events like Media Day, and how the IndyCar drivers often engage with fans in a way that has escaped Formula One.

“In Formula One, in the spare time when you are not in the car, you are talking with the engineers and preparing the strategy,” he said.

“The cars are very complex and you need to make sure that every detail is under control. Here because the cars are not that complex, all that extra time you spend with the fans and with the media which is a little bit better obviously than with engineers.”

The gaggle surrounding Alonso didn’t let up for any of the hour-long session with the media two or three deep and peppering him with questions in English, Spanish and Italian.

It was the polar opposite of the controlled environment of Formula One to which he’s grown accustomed where media officers guard and protect the drivers and strictly control access. Rarely would a Formula One driver be left essentially on his own to be surrounded and scrummed by dozens of journalists for an hour.

Then he was gone, slipping away in his golf cart after surviving his introduction to media American style.

Will you be watching Fernando Alonso’s attempt on the Indy 500? Has this captured your imagination?

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1

Shure will . Not only just for alonso even if he makes it bigger fun. Nice to see old way gladiator type race. And not race controlled by tyre supplier

2

I just realized one thing that amazes me – how quickly and easily they found, rather created, a spot for Alonso to be able to participate – they just added a car to the grid. I cannot imagine this happening in Formula 1, unfortunately, if Valentino Rossi or another famed racer wanted to take part.

3

Methink, one driver let Fernando in.

4

I won’t be surprised if Alonso won this one. he is one of kind driver who deliver results in any car any racetrack at any time

Always believe when someone deliver results based on his talent is the best man to have , that whether racing, football…etc

example. Jose Mourhino. he is talented coach but with already set team, otherwise, he is just a normal coach. Any one want to challenge me on this, bring it on

below is a analytical module used statistics to prove that Alonso is best f1 ever driver, read and see what I mean

Note, I’m sure tons of LH pro will argue he is the best, but guess what, you can spend all night and you ain’t be able to prove me wrong..

https://f1metrics.wordpress.com/2014/07/18/who-was-the-greatest-f1-driver/

5

I’m on holiday on Tenerife and the casa offers English, Irish, American, Spanish, Austrian and German TV channels. In addition I can chromecast my tablet subscription TV app to screen. Will watch Monaco and Indy and be having a field day!

6

I’ll be watching him and cheering him on as he represents F1. I have had many cause to criticise him over the years, but I have nothing but respect for this extremely courageous and adventurous decision.

7

Pardon me while I put on my tinfoil hat…
I hear noises from McLaren about doing Indycar full time. Could this be their plan B if things with Honda in F1 don’t pick up?
Can’t ditch Honda
Can’t get back to the front in F1
Leave F1 entirely and do Indycar instead..?

8

They’d never leave F1 completely unless financially forced to.

I’m more interested in seeing if Ferrari would feel the need to follow suite and run an Indycar team if McLaren went there full time

9

Unlikely as the Indycar chassis are all made by Dallara and if Ferrari can’t make the while car I doubt it they woud be interested.

10

@ Charlie…Given the current parlous situation of the Honda engine they could all save hundreds of millions by doing just that. Why trundle around pointless with no possible chance of winning just to satisfy a few individuals misguided ideas? Mclaren are a legend in F1 and every race where they are not able to even challenge the mid field is another step closer to finality. Honda should retire themselves until they can demonstrate that they can actually build a competitive engine…and prove it!!!

11
Garrett Bruce

Won’t be able to watch Monaco or Indy live – working a club race in Seattle at Pacific Raceways. Recorder is set to catch both, though. Best to Jenson and Fernando for successful days.

12
Ricciardo Aficionado

“I think the first couple of restarts will be the best lessons. Whatever you plan will not be like the real thing, so the first couple I will learn improve and hopefully the last couple of restarts I will be a more experienced driver.”

One cool cucumber.

13

I like.

14

As a child, I was lucky enough to see the Bruce and Denny show at Mid Ohio, and I also saw my hero Sir Jackie Stewart best the Mclarens (also at Mid Ohio). More recently, I cheered with the crowd as Ohio-native Bobby Rahal fought his way to a podium finish during his last Champ Car race, once again at Mid Ohio. In 2010 I stood glued to the fence as Lewis Hamilton drove so close to the armco on his Canadian Grand Prix victory lap, I felt like I could have slapped him a high five!

But..none of these experiences were as thrilling as watching Alonso turn those four laps in the final qualifying session at Brickyard. I sat with my wife at turn one and watched as he drove seemingly right at us at over 230 mph. The crowd was electrified and the experience was tremendous. Forza Alonso!

15

@ heybulldig…..great post. well said. Hope that sunday brings success to Alonso in a very tough race.

16

I’ll be watching, both Monaco & the 500. Go Fernando! This is one way F1 will grow in the US. He has been VERY popular here, and he’s the right guy to try this.

17

I know this is a race that everyone has a chance of winning; it’s an unpredictable race

This race is as unpredictable as penalty kicks.

Unfortunately I have to say FAlonso’s chances are slim to none.
FA gets competitive lap times by being one of the fastest in curve speed, which means lots of downforce, high drag and therefore lower straight line speeds.
Fans who follow the race knows that at the end of the race competitors use much less wing angle to allow better top speeds and a higher chance of overtaking at the end of straights.
So no bueno for Skipper.
Maybe FA has a chance if it rains out in the middle of the race and the rubber laid down is washed away.

Zac Brown said he planned to get a major title sponsor for McLaren in 2018.
But how he’s gonna achieve that being miles away from Monaco, the place where the big deals of F1 are settled?
This Indiana Brown adventure is good for Zac personally as he gets publicized in the USA, but no bueno for McLaren.
This venture is not aligned with his own strategy of success for McLaren.

FAlonso has been bad mouthing Honda for a long time and I hope he gets booed by the American aficionados, that are huge there, not by being a F1 driver.

18

Zac Brown said he planned to get a major title sponsor for McLaren in 2018.
But how he’s gonna achieve that being miles away from Monaco, the place where the big deals of F1 are settled?

I guess he’ll leave it up to his marketing manager; just like he probably would have done if he was present at Monaco…?

19

@ De Weberis…..All Honda have to do is build a decent engine….something they seem incapable of doing for at least three years and still they have not mastered the expertise. Honda manufacture the ammunition and someone else pulls the trigger. They are their own worst enemy, just like renault. To wish that alonso gets booed for someones elses mistakes is a low call.

20

On average, how many “restarts” do you get per Indy 500? Realistically, how many opportunities will Alonso have to “learn” — he speaks of having a couple goes to start with….

21

I’ll definitely be watching because there will be speed……overtaking……crashes……racing and many other things that Monaco doesn’t have.
I truly believe that Monaco is a great spectacle and a true demonstration of driver and car working in perfect harmony. However,it is also utterly boring to watch on TV.

22

It’s in you to do this Fernando, so flow with your instincts. ‘Thinking’ at playtime speed Indy 500 covers too much ground. Enjoy! …

23

What an epic Sunday: two amazing races in a row!

24

Three, actually: NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600 follows Indy. Amazingly, some drivers have done both races on the same day: 1100 miles of racing, with not quite 600 miles of travel between Indy and Charlotte.

25

Can you imagine
If we all have chance to win
Was real in Eff One.

26

@Sebee – Eh? then it wont be F1.. probably have become a one or two manufacturer series.

On the other hand I would love 3 cars per team (not customer cars and all that jazz) even if one team is utterly dominant.. there would be atleast 3 drivers battling for the lead which is enough

27

Spend Competition
That’s all this Eff One is now
Is that why you watch?

28

Spend Competition

Yes..

To watch humanity push itself to the extreme.. not just the human body.. but also the CREATIVITY of the mind. The Spirit to keep on making newer and newer concepts the universe has never experienced before !

If they could make the business even more profitable and spread the loot more evenly across all the engineering teams.. Wahahaha 😀 That is exactly what I watch F1 for! – instead of races like Indy where two teams decide how much is “enough development”.

Indy like races is good for driver to driver competition but F1 is the best (and one of the very few platforms) to innovate simply for the sake of innovation.

The best of innovation off course needs to hire the best drivers as well to test the LIMITS of such innovation.. hence the confusion with why the best drivers in the world pop up in the F1 world.
Make no mistake.. the best drivers in the world are hired only because the best is needed to push the cutting edge of creation.

Translation to road cars is a by product ..a good one.. but not the REASON why I Watch F1.

The confluence of the best minds in the world with such a creative spirit.. resulting in the Big Bang itself. The EDGE in cutting Edge.. 🙂

Formula E, it could be argued is similar but they narrowed it down to only electric power where as for the long term I think F1 has a healthier future as Electric cars seem more like a stop gap step before more complex hybrid solutions like fuel cells or yet unknown tech, get more efficient. But whatever they will be.. rest assured those very tech will be driving F1 in the future. Making known the unknown 😀

Your want of V10 to remain for ever is like saying Steam Engines are Grand magnificent creations, a marvel of sight and sound when it works. True! Steam engines were Amazing beyond belief.. and thats why they deservedly are maintained in museums and Heritage tours.. but just because they were so magnificent didn’t stop us from making Bullet trains that do not even have a single locomotive but run on multiple traction units. The universe stops expanding for NO One.. The Universe craves for Newer, and better and more complex and more AWESOME.

If you are struggling temporarily to accept change Sebee.. I Suggest you take up some kind of activity associated with maintaining the history of F1. It will warm your heart as you ponder on its history and at the same time it will eventually make you realize that even F1 stopped developing for no one 😉

Sometimes Haiku’s are just not enough to say all that, So while I loved your NEW introduction of the three line comment format a few posts earlier.. i revert to the long para form for this post as its less ambiguous. Back to the three line format again for me soon!

29

This innovation
Makes driver less than 10%
We don’t know who’s best

30

Nice sales pitch nomad
Innovation to game rules?
This inspires you?

31

@Sebee..

Innovation in technology, and and and.. gaming the rules as well if you know what I mean xD

Now if you liked my sales pitch.. why not go with my suggestion and get involved in activities that are about cherishing the past and maintaining the history of F1! it will warm your heart 😛

32

@sebee
“Imagine” is the right word. But how can one imagine something that’s never been😉

33

Manufacturers
Don’t want drivers to feature
Not marketing plan

34

British Legend
Graham Hill did the trinity
LeMan 🏆
Indy 500 🏆
Monaco GP🏆
So
Alonso will try for the big 3.
All the best to him.
Be great to see the Big 3 ( LH, FD, SB, )
of F1 attempt LeMan Indy 500 too.

35

Pronounce LeMan, write Le Mans.

36

Pronounced LeMan? Translated from the French it means:
“Yo da MAN, bro”.

37

I’d like to watch, but I’m struggling to find a legal way to stream the coverage in the UK. I’d be happy to pay to watch, but BT Sport seems to be the only UK option and that’s a non-starter – I’m under contract to my ISP and don’t have or want Sky.

38
Alan from Toronto, Canada

If you are able to connect your TV to network (i.e. internet) then connect to either http://www.indycar.com or Youtube to see the live feed. I am gonna watch the Monaco GP in the morning, and then the Indy 500 in the afternoon, both live via TSN here in Canada.

39

I can’t see any link on that site for live feeds??

40

I always catch replays much later of the last few laps on youtube for the indy 500 and have never seen the whole event. This time I will watch it like F1 – from before the race all the pre race stuff (I hope they have that kind of thing on the official online channel) to well after! -and all laps in between.

On the racing game sim, I had tried my hand at ovals on the Toca Race driver series years ago and to be honest it was a whole lot of fun and I did find the concept of building speed lap after lap very interesting. Tweaking cornering lines drafting etc.

Also the onboard swivel cameras that i now see in F1 for the last few years, has been so much more effective in the oval series where five cars are sometimes side by side making moves relative to each other.

Never thought I would attempt watching all 500 laps.. but this time i WILL !! 😀
Thanks to FernONDA “Fonzy ” Alonso 😉

41

You might be happy to know it is only 200 laps (2.5 miles per lap *200 = 500 miles)

42

You might be happy to know it is only 200 laps

@Adrien
Things are getting even more Brighter already xD

43

Just hope he returns to F1 safely. I know he’d be able to win any F1 race if he had a competitive car. Bourdais accident shows the danger. If he does well great, if not, F1 is still waiting for him.

44

@cheesy
For once I agree with you😊 well said👍

45

I managed to stream the live feed direct from Indycar to my TV for the qualifying, quality was a bit poor but it was still watchable. I enjoyed the quali, the format is good and Fernando was quick, would be great if he did manage to win it.

46

Live on BT Sports UK TimW.
So awesome Weekend of Racing 👍
Can see Alonso on the podium.
Hope he gets to chug on a pint of Milk .
All the best to Alonso.

47

Pkara. i don’t have BT sport, I have the Sky package with the F1 channel. I’m not sure if the race will be streamed as the qualifying and practice sessions were, or if I can get the race for a one off payment without having to take a full BT subscription.

48

small correction to my last post – there is no 12 month tie in. Apparently you can cancel with 30 days notice – so the activation fee and 1 months rent to watch the race = £57 for one race? I’m gonna give it a try as I like the indy 500 – all the razzmatazz and ‘drivers start your engines’ etc 🙂

49

So far as I can tell there is no (legal) live streaming here in the UK and BT don’t do the one off race pass like Sky. It’s £22/month with a 12 month tie in and an activation fee of £20 unless you have BT broadband – which seems like quite a lot if you are only interested in this one race. Radio 5 is providing commentary – but listening on the radio to a motor race doesn’t do it for me. So it looks like the Indy 500 will just have to get along without me this year (like the motogp has).

50

BT ESPN channel is part of the BT sports package on Virgin Media.
But you can just head to ESPN USA channel and pay for a day pass online.
You can watch BT Sports on Free view TV (phone numbers usually on the blue screen and pay for a day /weekend pass)
Or just go on BT Sports website and try that way.and pay for a day/weekend pass also. (Think you key in a pass word they give you once you’ve paid the toll so to speak )
Or if you have any mates on Virgin XL package ask for a sneaky view online using their password (😉).

51

Well i may watch the re run as the live race will entail staying up for almost the entire night post Monaco. What i would like to see is, obviously, an Alonso win but that is a very long shot given the number of ace Indy drivers contesting the race. He will need all his vast experience and talent to even get to see the chequered flag. Winning or not,that does not matter to me. What i do admire is his unquestionable desire to take on something radically different and to excel in a related discipline. He is a true racer and that is something that we should all embrace. I do hope that he is successful. Get in there Fernando …somewhere in front of the pack.

52

@kenneth
Well written👍🏻🍻

53

I really hope he does well.

54

Totally agree Mike….really looking forward to this weekend.

Get in there my son….get in!!

55

I will be watching and I cant wait to cheer him home. Go Fernando.

56

Nope.. he had no chance.. with a HONDA engine 😐

57

Right.. time for INDY 500 . All Aboard 😀

58

From what I understand.. Indy cars has a lot of fuel saving going on and I guess Alonso will be happy for a change that he has learnt to fuel save fuel save fuel save for the last three years 😀

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