Fernando Alonso insists he didn’t miss the Monaco Grand Prix while he was attempting to win the Indianapolis 500 last year.
The McLaren driver opted to miss Monaco in order to race at Indy, leading 27 laps at the Brickyard before his engine failed with 20 laps remaining. While McLaren was more competitive in Monte Carlo than at many other venues last year, it still wasn’t able to compete with the top three teams, and Alonso says he didn’t feel like he missed out.
“I think it was great,” Alonso said. “I came here this morning and yesterday evening, and I didn’t miss it. It was good last year, I had my two weeks [at Indy] and probably this time last year we had finished qualifying and we were P5 with a high chance to win a race, or at least the same chance of all 33 drivers there.
“Here, you come and you have no chances and no possibilities, and whatever your inspiration will be on Saturday you cannot overcome the deficit of the car. This will be a train of cars on Sunday, there it will be a chance of a last lap overtake until the very last moment. I think it was good 12 months ago, it’s still good now, but it was a great experience.”
And when asked about which event he would rather be competing this weekend, Alonso was coy in his answer.
“I think there is time for everything. I grew up here in Europe and I grew up in a Formula 1 environment. I dreamed about Formula 1 when I was a go-kart driver and I joined F1 when I was 19 and I was battling with Michael Schumacher and I had the life that I dreamed of.
“But sometimes to go out of this world and experience those kinds of big races is quite beneficial. I think looking back now, 12 months ago, I was enjoying a lot that experience.”
Now focused on trying to maintain his run of point-scoring finishes this season, Alonso says Monaco rarely provides the opportunity to cause a shock despite the car having less of an influence on the street circuit.
“It’s a different and very unique layout and weekend but at the same time there are not many surprises here. It is never a place where you have a midfield team winning a race or a small team winning a race or doing the pole position. There is always a lot of expectation in Monaco but it is always a Mercedes, a Ferrari or a Red Bull on pole position.
“Three of these six drivers have been on the podium in the last editions, and I think it is going to be quite similar again. Definitely it’s an opportunity for some of the teams to do a good race, to score a good number of points – hopefully with both cars – but it’s also quite easy to do a mistake and lose all those points. It’s quite difficult to make a surprise but it’s quite easy to make a mistake. It’s a weekend that is important in all the aspects to execute well.”
– Words by Chris Medland