Fernando Alonso says he is not stressed by the need to take part in the last row shootout to try and qualify for the Indianapolis 500, saying his McLaren team will only make the race if it deserves to.
A crash on Wednesday led to Alonso missing the whole of Thursday practice as McLaren took a long time to prepare the spare car, but the team rebounded somewhat with a productive Friday. However, a puncture on his first run left Alonso needed to keep attempting to re-qualify on Saturday, eventually getting knocked down to 31st place at the end of the day and having to take part in the last row shootout on Sunday that will see places 31-33 defined and three cars bumped.
“I think we have the speed,” Alonso said. “So we are where we deserve today and hopefully tomorrow we have another chance to be in the race. If we can take it, OK, and if we don’t take it then it’s because we don’t deserve it. So I’m happy with any way.
“The whole week it has been OK — the speed is not really there in the car and we will not find it in one night. We will try to do a good and clean run and hopefully that will put us in the top three positions.”
Alonso will battle with James Hinchcliffe, Pato O’Ward, Max Chilton, Sage Karam and Kyle Kaiser for a place in the 33, and says he won’t change his approach from Saturday to Sunday.
“I think today I approached like they were the last four laps. You try to go in and more or less you are happy with your run, but then when you see the times, it’s not enough, obviously. Not much we can do at the moment. Tomorrow we’ll try to do these four laps clean, no mistakes, try to be flat all four, and then if it’s enough to be in the top three of the six, we’ll take it, and we will try to do a good race.
“If it’s not enough and we are fourth of six, it’s what we deserve. There were maybe three cars quicker than us. So nothing we can do more than that. Try to execute the runs tomorrow the best we can, and same thing with did today, stay calm, stay focused, and try to do a good job.”
Straight after jumping out of the car when it was confirmed he was not guaranteed a starting spot, Alonso was signing autographs for fans in pit lane, and he explains why he felt it was important to not ignore them despite facing such a tough situation.
“Well, I didn’t sign all of them! I stopped, signed a few, but they are everywhere. You open the motor home, they are there; you go out to the garage, they are there; you go in the bathroom, they are there. So sometimes you stop, sometimes you don’t.
“But yeah, they are outside the emotions and the environment that you are in at that moment. Maybe you jumped out of the car, but for them it’s like you were walking there. They didn’t see what you were doing the last 10 minutes. So it’s not something that they can control. You try to be nice with most of them, but I understand that a lot of them, they are not happy at the end of the day. So you try to do the best you can.”