Like any other first-time Indy 500 driver, two-time Formula One World Champion Fernando Alonso had to go through a rookie test before he was allowed to get up to speed at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
He did so in about an hour, taking just 51 laps to progress easily through the prescribed stages – 10 laps at 205-210 mph, 15 laps at 210-215 mph and 15 laps at 215-plus mph. His fastest lap was at an average speed of 222.548 mph.
Alonso will compete in the Indianapolis 500 on May 28 for the first time, skipping the Monaco Grand Prix to do so. He’s doing it with the blessing of his McLaren Honda F1 team, which not only released him from his Monaco commitment but helped organize the Indy run.
His car, is entered by McLaren and painted in classic Team McLaren papaya orange. It is prepared and run by the reigning Indy 500 winning team of Andretti Autosport – the common denominator in the whole enterprise being Honda.”
A day after preparing in a racing simulator, Alonso said his confidence grew with each passing lap. “The simulator is quite realistic,” he said. “You have the first impression of how it's going to be. But the real car is a unique feeling. When you have to go flat out in the corner, it's not the same in the simulator as in the real car.
"I think it's a good way to start, to build speed," he said. "It was difficult at (the) beginning to reach the minimum speed. The next stages felt good, not because of the speed but because of the laps. You're able to fine-tune the lines; upshift, downshift, which gears to use in the corner.
"It was fun," he said after completing his preliminary runs. "At this moment, everything looks good. Now it's time to start the real thing.
Andretti Autosport CEO Michael Andretti, who will field six cars in the race, liked what he saw from Alonso's initial experience. "He gets it," said Andretti. "He's one of the best in the world and you can see why. He's the real deal. I think he's going to be really strong this month."
Practice for the Indianapolis 500 begins May 15 with qualifying on May 20-21. The race takes place on May 28. Alonso’s participation has dramatically increased interest in the race, particularly outside the U.S.