Fernando Alonso finally had a no-drama day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Friday as he ran 77 clean laps in his McLaren Chevy and reached 229.328 mph.
Two days after hitting the wall in his primary Dallara, the two-time world champion made it out in his backup car.
“It was a positive day for us, and we were able to put the car on track, yeah, and try different directions on the setup and learn a little bit about the track and the day,” said Alonso, who was 24th overall out of 36 cars on track but only 30th best with no tow. “Obviously the boost was up today, so the speeds were higher, and it was more a [qualifying] preparation than race setups.
“But, yeah, we had a lot of new tires from the last couple of days. So we were able to do a lot of runs, and hopefully that information will give us tomorrow a little bit of confidence into qualifying.”
Alonso has only run 173 total laps and lost all of Thursday as his McLaren team took an inordinate amount of time to get him back on the track.
“Yeah, definitely. I cannot lie to you,” replied Alonso when asked if yesterday was his most frustrating day at IMS. “I was changed at 11:00. I was with the right suit, and I was supposed to be out at that time, and it was supposed to be at 1:00; then 2:30; then 4:00; and then it rained.
“Yeah, it was frustrating. But nothing we could do at that point, just getting ready for today, and, yeah, having that extra time to check everything and to be ready. It was frustrating, but at the same time, as I said before, we saved a lot of tires that we were able to use to set up the car today maybe in a more — in a better way.
“And also the track kept changing. Every day the temperature is completely different. Today, tomorrow, than Tuesday, Wednesday, things like that. Maybe things that you learn on Tuesday, Wednesday, they are not necessarily good for the race week. So I think in a way, it was not too compromised, the performance of the car or how we felt. But … more laps you do, better it is; so hopefully in the next couple of days we can run more.”
Gil de Ferran, the 2003 Indy 500 winner and managing director of McLaren, admitted it’s been a challenging week for the vaunted Formula 1 squad as they took on Indianapolis.
“We’re a new crew and we respect this place a lot,” said de Ferran. “So we wanted to make sure that we put the car together the best way possible. Obviously that took longer than we expected, and I guess having been here before, I’m very aware … I was very aware of the importance of being out on the racetrack, both from Fernando’s perspective and for the development of the car.
“But, like I said earlier, even under those circumstances, I also know it’s very important to keep your cool, you know, so that you don’t make bad decisions going forward.”