By Christopher DeHarde, Staff Writer
INDIANAPOLIS– Two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso was the first driver to wreck during practice ahead of the 103rd Running of the Indianapolis 500.
Alonso’s No. 66 McLaren Chevrolet had been having understeer issues. It was roughly 1.5 hours into Day 2 practice when the Spaniard brushed the wall exiting Turn 3, which led to him spinning and hitting the inside wall with the rear of the car before sliding across the track again and hitting the Turn 4 wall.
“It was understeer on the car, and even if I lifted the throttle on the entry of the corner it was not enough, and I lost completely the front aero,” said Alonso.
“The wall came too close and too quickly. Unfortunately, it happened today. We will lose a little bit of running time again. I’m sorry for the team, but we will learn and hopefully we will come back stronger tomorrow. I’m disappointed and sad for the team and for the guys. We worked quite a lot on the car and definitely now it’s quite damaged, so I feel sorry for the team and for my mistake.
“We will learn from this and hopefully tomorrow we’re back on track and back stronger.”
Alonso, who was checked and released from the Indiana University medical center has been cleared to drive. The team has said that they will not go to a backup car and plan on going back on track in the afternoon.
Before the incident, Alonso was the ninth fastest driver on the unassisted speed list (222.617 mph) and overall he was 16th fastest (225.433 mph). Alonso’s last completed lap before the incident was 224.269 mph.
“It felt much better than yesterday,” said Alonso. “Definitely we were moving in the right direction. Small steps that we learned today that hopefully we can bring for next time. I’m sorry for the guys.”
McLaren sporting director and 2003 Indianapolis 500 winner Gil De Ferran was adamant that the team will bounce back from this difficulty.
“It looked like we’ve been suffering from understeer throughout the morning and it just understeered into the wall and that’s that,” said De Ferran. “The key is to remain calm and assess the situation properly and come up with a good plan going forward. It’s a must if we are to recover from this.
“The team has got a lot of good, experienced people including Fernando, he’s a true professional. This isn’t ideal but we’ve got to keep moving forward.”
— NTT IndyCar Series (@IndyCar) May 15, 2019