Two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso completed his first IndyCar test outing on a road course, taking one of the Andretti Autosport cars around Barber Motorsports Park.
With Alonso confirming last month that he will not be competing in Formula One next season, he has been heavily linked with a move to the United States to compete in the 2019 IndyCar Series.
His performance in the 2017 Indy 500 caught the attention of the world – much as Nigel Mansell’s move there did 25 years earlier and Alonso is expected to try again to win Indy to go with his Monaco GP, F1 championship and Le Mans 24hrs crowns.
This is the Spaniard’s first test since that announcement, and he took the wheel of one of Carlos Munoz’s cars to attempt a non-oval course for the first time, having only previously competed at the Indy 500.
Speaking after the test session, Alonso said he was pleased to have tested in a variety of weather conditions.
“It was a good day, a fun day. I love to test new cars and to test the IndyCar on a road course is something special,” said Alonso.
“I’ve been lucky enough to test it in wet conditions, in intermediate conditions and in dry conditions, so overall I had a good feeling on every type of track.
“The weather was good for us today – a little bit of wind in the afternoon but overall a positive day.”
He was then asked to compare driving an IndyCar on an oval to driving on a road course, given that this was his first time testing on the latter.
“Probably my instinct will tell me [I prefer the] road course, because it’s what I’ve been used to doing all my life, but the Indy 500 was an amazing experience, so 50/50.
“I think I love the way the car feels on a road course, but I love the way you compete on ovals, timing the tows, traffic and all the overtaking manoeuvres I think are a little bit easy on the ovals, so in terms of track action I loved the Indy 500.”
He added that a road course test was something that he had wanted to do for some time, with several potential dates being given as test day options following his Indy 500 exploits.
“It was something that I was looking for last year already. I had some options to test the car on a road course after the Indy 500.
“We didn’t find the time but this year it’s definitely happened now and I’m happy for this. I love being behind a steering wheel, and definitely a new car, a new experience, learning a lot of things from the team, the engineers, everyone, so a happy day.”
Having previously won the Monaco Grand Prix and the 24 Hours of Le Mans, an Indy 500 victory is the last thing remaining on the quest to achieve the ‘triple crown of motorsport’.
With Alonso being unable to compete at the forefront of Formula One, and McLaren anticipating that their return to the top will be a lengthy one, he’s taken the opportunity to seek other racing thrills.
IndyCar are known to be very keen to have McLaren involved in Alonso’s efforts in the United States, as they were behind the scenes during his Indy 500 effort in 2017, but with Zak Briwn’s team under pressure to get their house in order in F1 the extent of their involvement in any Alonso IndyCar entry is not yet known.
By: Luke Murphy
Title Image: IndyCar
Remaining images: Motorsport Images