Fernando Alonso’s final visit to the Indianapolis 500 for the foreseeable future was derailed by a clutch problem.
The two-time Formula 1 world champion will return to F1 next year with Renault, which has already made it clear that it will keep Alonso’s focus exclusively on his day job.
Already facing an uphill battle on Sunday after qualifying the No. 66 Arrow McLaren SP entry in 26th, the Spaniard found himself on the back foot from the start.
“We didn’t have one lap of kindness, let’s say,” he said after being classified 21st. “We were struggling from the very beginning with the balance of the car, with a lot oversteer. We kept changing that balance in the pit stops, reducing the front flap, doing tire adjustments and then we started to be happy with the car. We were up to P15 around lap 110, which is where we wanted to be. We spent half the race going from P26 to P15, and then we had a clutch problem on the car that we didn’t know how to solve. We finished the race without the clutch, so from that point on every pit stop we had to push the car, engage the gear and go. That cost us a lap and unfortunately, we kept that lap down until the end and we could not achieve anything more.”
While disappointed with the final result, Alonso took some solace in getting to the end of the 500 for the first time in three tries.
“I’m happy to finish the race, cross the line and have one 500 miles in the pocket, that’s the positive thing. The negative is that we were out of contention very quickly with the clutch problem. Anyway, I think the Arrow McLaren SP team was fantastic during the race, the strategy and pit stops meant we were always gaining positions. I’m very proud of the work we’ve done over the last couple of weeks. We tried to race, but luck was not with us today, but I’m proud of the effort from everyone in the team.”
Alonso’s misfortunes capped a mixed afternoon for the team, with Pato O’Ward finishing sixth while Oliver Askew showed solid pace before crashing while trying to avoid the spinning Conor Daly.