By Joey Barnes, Editor-in-Chief
Fernando Alonso came away with an enjoyable experience after testing an Andretti Autosport Indy car on Wednesday at Barber Motorsports Park.
The 37-year-old Spaniard made his Verizon IndyCar Series debut last year in the 101st Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil, qualifying fifth and leading 27 laps before being stricken with mechanical failure with 21 laps to go. Although he finished 24th, the strong showing was enough to warrant Indy 500 Rookie of the Year honors.
To this point, that remains his only race in an Indy car. However, many are hoping Alonso, who is leaving Formula One at the end of the 2018, takes to North America’s premier open wheel tour full-time next season. That effort could become all the more likely after a positive test at the scenic 2.3-mile, 17-turn natural terrain road course in Birmingham, Alabama.
The two-time Formula One World Champion appeared to drive the same blue and green chassis that Carlos Munoz drove to a seventh-place finish in this year’s Indy 500. The car was also noticeably free of any manufacturer logos.
Due to the test being closed to the media and the public, the below question-and-answer session with Alonso is courtesy of Andretti Autosport.
Question: Tell me a little bit about your experience today – you kind of got experience with two things in the car: wet, a little bit wet and dry, right?
ALO: “Yeah, it was a good day, a fun day. I love to test new cars and to test the Indy car on a road course is something special. I’ve been lucky enough to test it in wet conditions, in intermediate conditions and in dry conditions, so overall I had a good feeling on every type of track. The weather was good for us today – a little bit of wind in the afternoon but overall a positive day.”
Question: You’ve now driven on a superspeedway and a road course – which one do you prefer?
ALO: “Probably my instinct will tell me road course, because it’s what I’ve been used to doing all my life, but the Indy 500 was an amazing experience, so 50/50. I think I love the way the car feels on a road course, but I love the way you compete on ovals, timing the tows, traffic and all the overtaking maneuvers I think are a little bit easy on the ovals, so in terms of track action I loved the Indy 500.”
Question: Do you call this kind of a bucket list item for you just getting to drive different things and new experiences?
ALO: “Yeah, definitely. It was something that I was looking for last year already. I had some options to test the car on a road course after the INDY 500. We didn’t find the time but this year it’s definitely happened now and I’m happy for this. I love being behind a steering wheel, and definitely a new car, a new experience, learning a lot of things from the team, the engineers, everyone, so a happy day.”