Fernando Alonso, Michael Andretti, Andretti, IndyCar, Barber Motorsports Park, 2017

Alonso says his Indy bid is about “growing up as a driver”

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Fernando Alonso says his bid to win the Indianapolis 500 stems from his desire to “grow up” as a racing driver.

“Four or five years ago I started thinking about how to grow up as a driver and become a little bit a more complete driver,” Alonso explained in a press conference ahead of today’s IndyCar race in Alabama.

Fernando Alonso, Andretti, IndyCar, Barber Motorsports Park, 2017
Alonso is attending today’s IndyCar race
“To do so I think you need to win the best races in the world, the most prestigious races in the world. Howto achieve that I think is Formula One, Indy 500, 24 Hours Le Mans, which is called the ‘Triple Crown’.”

The McLaren driver said he previously thought he wouldn’t be able to go after the ‘Triple Crown’ until after his F1 career was over.

“That target – a very ambitious target because only one man in history did it – was quite attractive at the time. But I didn’t think it was possible to attempt another race apart from Formula One until I was retired from Formula One.”

“So to make it happen now, this year, is something that makes me very proud of my team and very happy because I will have the first attempt.”

“I think with the level of professionalism and commitment in the last two decades motorsport has been difficult to jump from one series to another in the same season,” he added. “So this has no precedence, probably, in history. The last drivers that attempted something similar had bigger experience or a couple of months’ preparation, more testing and different ovals and super-speedways tests as well.”

“This is quite a unique thing, I’m aware of it. I’m aware of the difficult. All of the fans are aware of it. But if you love motorsport I think it’s good news.”

Alexander Rossi, Andretti, Indianapolis 500, IndyCar, 2016
Alonso’s team mate Rossi won the race as a rookie
While Alonso wouldn’t be the first driver in history to win the race as a rookie – Alexander Rossi was the most recent to do so last year – he is prepared to consider a return if he doesn’t win.

“We’ll see on the 29th, Monday, what is the situation, how much I enjoyed the experience, how competitive I felt, whether I had fun which is the priority for me. I do this because I love racing cars, I love driving the fastest cars.”

“The name of Indy 500 is the biggest race in the world. It’s very attractive to race it, to enjoy and feel that unique experience. Everyone is telling me it’s a unique atmosphere and a very intense day. So after that I think wherever, despite the result we will achieve on Sunday we will think together what is the future from that point.”

“If I want to be the most complete, the best driver in the world and win all the series in different cars with different driving techniques that I need to adapt, I need to grow up as a driver. If I want to do that i need to win it. If it’s not this year we will plan it for the next attempt.”

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Alonso believes the Indianapolis 500 will be a more difficult race to adapt to than the other element of the ‘Triple Crown’.

“I have this idea always to compete first in the 24 Hours of Le Mans because it’s a series that will not need a big adaptation time because the cars they feel similar, I guess, and some of the drivers that jump into the Le Mans car they have no difficultly in terms of adapting.”

“The biggest task is definitely the Indianapolis 500 for a Formula One driver.”

He expects the most challenging differences to mast will be “the traffic, the level of downforce, the feeling with the car and running with a car that is not symmetric on the straights, on braking.”

“The traffic is a big thing, is what I’m hearing. Let’s see if I can learn as quick as I can. I think the restarts, the strategies are a bit different as well.”

“But I’m with the best team possible for this type of lessons I need to learn. I’m also with a coach, Gil de Ferran, which I think will be very useful for all these new things I need to learn. We will be prepared, not now, but in three weeks’ time.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 9 comments on “Alonso says his Indy bid is about “growing up as a driver””

    1. Estaban de los Casas
      23rd April 2017, 19:17

      Racing for the very team which bred the infamous name,The Andretti Curse. Excited to follow him on this adventure but the odds on victory are remote. But those who followed Rossi last year felt the same too.

      An Alonso 500 victory would be fantastic for fans

      1. Also driving for the very driver who went to Formula 1 while Nigel raced in CART…

    2. What is this?!? IndyCarFanatic?? :P

      I don’t think Alonso is too worried about winning. He probably just want to do well and feel like he has a chance. Oval races are crazy anyway, and anything can happen. It can throw surprises like no other motorsport series besides NASCAR. So you never know… but I feel like he only wants to be “in it” for a change.

    3. Fred looked like he was totally not interested in being at Barber. Especially when Paul Tracy started giving him tips about oval racing.

      1. Funny I thought the opposite in that I thought he would have preferred at that particular time to focus on the race. Initially when they started to talk to him his eyes kept falling to the monitor.

    4. This is good. Nice solid plan, it will be the one indy race I will be watching.

      1. You should watch more. It is the best racing on the planet.
        See if you can breathe at the start of the 500. It’s intense.

    5. Evil Homer (@)
      24th April 2017, 13:47

      Alonso doesn’t care if this is good or not for F1 he is just doing what he wants to do. That’s fine, McLaren need to keep him, which they wont, but at least it’s something different I say.

      I would rather he not miss Monaco, that despite what some think does really matter and miss a race that shouldn’t be raced like Russia or Abu Dhabi.

    6. “But if you love motorsport I think it’s good news.” I do love Open Wheel and it’s fantastic news Alonso! Thank you for being brave enough to try.

    Comments are closed.