Daniel Ricciardo said he was sorry to see Fernando Alonso fail to qualify for the Indianapolis 500, but noted that McLaren’s failure has highlighted the difficulty in setting up a car in such a competitive field.
Alonso returned to the Brickyard in search of the triple crown, having already won the Le Mans 24 Hours and Monaco Grand Prix in his career. However, with McLaren entering as its own team — rather than an Andretti-run car as in 2017 — the new outfit struggled and despite a last-ditch effort to make the race, Alonso was bumped by Kyle Kaiser and Juncos Racing on Sunday.
With the two-time Formula 1 world champion having only retired from the category at the end of last season, his attempt gained interest from drivers in the F1 paddock and Ricciardo says it was disappointing to see Alonso miss out.
“Personally, because I’ve never driven an IndyCar or been on an oval, I never really had an expectation for Alonso, as far as I didn’t know how easy or difficult it would be,” Ricciardo said. “I had confidence that he’d be able to hop in and be relatively competitive because he is a very good driver, and very capable and still very motivated and driven.
“That showed in 2017, but I guess as well this year it looks like you have to be a good driver but the setup and all those things at those margins is so important. I don’t know the ins and outs but everything needs to work right and that is the thing with race cars — it is a love/hate relationship. Obviously this year with him was more of a hate one.
“It is sad to see; as part of the F1 family we want to see him do well.”
A number of drivers at the Monaco Grand Prix were asked if they felt the difficulty of making the Indy field had been underestimated, but Robert Kubica warned against judging from afar.
“Looking through the classification it’s too easy to arrive at wrong assumptions or conclusions,” Kubica said. “Fernando, we know what a great driver he is — he showed it two years ago when he was there and fighting for the win on his debut. This year it didn’t work.”