Alonso: Too early to judge if McLaren-Chevrolet is competitive

Fernando Alonso says that running only 29 laps of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Wednesday’s test meant he’s unable to judge whether the McLaren-Chevrolet package will be competitive.

Alonso: Too early to judge if McLaren-Chevrolet is competitive

Bad weather ruined the scheduling at IMS, which was supposed to allow two hours for full-time 2019 NTT IndyCar Series entries and oval veterans to test, followed by two hours for rookies and veteran refreshers, then three hours for all participants.

However, barely 15mins into the opening session, the caution flew for rain, and the track remained down for over four hours. When action resumed, the veterans got around 90mins, the rookies and when the rain returned in the evening, the refreshers had received a similar amount of track time, and the final ‘combined’ session had been canned.

However, Alonso missed the first 45mins of the rookie and refreshers period due to an electrical problem and the abbreviated session meant that he and others still need to complete their refresher course.

Alonso needs to turn 10 more laps at 215-plus mph, while Helio Castroneves, JR Hildebrand and Oriol Servia need to turn two, three and eight laps respectively. All four will be permitted to do so on the opening day of Indy 500 practice on Tuesday, May 14.

“It's great to be back," said Alonso. "Every time you enter the Indianapolis Motor Speedway it's a great feeling. Even though we were unlucky with the weather and also had some issues with the car, we still got in some laps and the adrenaline driving around here is unique, so I feel happy.

“As a team the plan for today was to build speed step by step and complete all the right checks. With every run we were discovering new things, but at the end of the day, it was a very short time on the track, so it is difficult to say if I feel we have a competitive car.

“More track time is all we need and I'm sure we will recover those laps in May.

“This time the Indy 500 feels different for me, I know the race, I know the length and we should be a bit more ready especially on the emotional side. Now it's just about making sure the car is fast. We have two weeks and a lot of work to do, but I'm confident we'll keep moving in the right direction.”

Alonso, whose only previous experience of racing the Indy’s iconic oval came in 2017 with a McLaren-backed Andretti Autosport entry, said that McLaren entering this year fully under its own banner – albeit with a technical alliance with Carlin – was a tougher proposition.

“Basically I think it’s a bit of a challenge, no doubt,” he said. “I think we have to do everything by ourselves, not only in terms of setup-wise, on the technical side: it's also on the operational side, on the strategy, tire management, the comfort side in terms of precision, steering wheel grip – basic things that they were ready with at Andretti. You save a lot of time.

“Yeah, basically it's a bigger challenge. But it could be a bigger reward, as well! I think some of the philosophy or directions that McLaren may go in the next month, maybe now is a little bit different. With Andretti we just followed what we knew was working. In a way it was easier.

“But maybe now we can discover new things. That's our hope.”

shares
comments
Herta leads rookies, Alonso gets first Indy laps of 2019

Previous article

Herta leads rookies, Alonso gets first Indy laps of 2019

Next article

IndyCar brings forward cockpit protection debut

IndyCar brings forward cockpit protection debut
Load comments

About this article

Series IndyCar
Event Indy 500
Drivers Fernando Alonso
Teams McLaren
Author David Malsher-Lopez
How good is Palou and is he Dixon’s strongest title rival? Prime

How good is Palou and is he Dixon’s strongest title rival?

Last Sunday, Alex Palou delivered his first IndyCar victory on his Chip Ganassi Racing debut. Is the young Spaniard going to become his legendary teammate Scott Dixon’s biggest title threat? David Malsher-Lopez reports.

Preview: Why IndyCar in 2021 is too close to call Prime

Preview: Why IndyCar in 2021 is too close to call

The fight for supremacy in the NTT IndyCar Series will be as intense as ever. David Malsher-Lopez is your guide to the main contenders and six intriguing sub-plots.

IndyCar
Apr 15, 2021
Is Arrow McLaren SP ready for IndyCar’s title fight? Prime

Is Arrow McLaren SP ready for IndyCar’s title fight?

With Patricio O'Ward and Felix Rosenqvist leading its line-up, 2021 could be the year Arrow McLaren SP-Chevrolet joins the IndyCar elite, writes David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Feb 21, 2021
Dale Coyne picks the Top 10 drivers in his giant-slaying team Prime

Dale Coyne picks the Top 10 drivers in his giant-slaying team

Over 37 seasons, Dale Coyne has run no fewer than 80 Indy car drivers – including himself! Ahead of his first season running Romain Grosjean, we asked Coyne to pick the best 10 drivers ever to compete for him. By David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Feb 10, 2021
Why enigmatic Marco Andretti will be missed Prime

Why enigmatic Marco Andretti will be missed

Last Friday, Marco Andretti announced he is withdrawing from fulltime IndyCar racing. David Malsher-Lopez explains how this third-gen racer was a puzzle in the car, but a straight shooter off-track.

IndyCar
Jan 19, 2021
Why Roger Penske is an American motorsport icon Prime

Why Roger Penske is an American motorsport icon

In this exclusive one-on-one interview, Roger Penske reveals the inner drive that has made him not only a hugely successful team owner and businessman but also the owner of Indianapolis Motor Speedway and IndyCar. He spoke to David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Dec 28, 2020
Is the mighty McLaren M16 the greatest ever Indy car? Prime

Is the mighty McLaren M16 the greatest ever Indy car?

When founder Bruce McLaren died in June 1970, his team could have folded. Instead, his loyal band rallied to produce a string of winners - including an Indy car game-changer that won three Indy 500s in six years.

IndyCar
Dec 23, 2020
How Newgarden delivered his best season, yet still lost Prime

How Newgarden delivered his best season, yet still lost

Josef Newgarden was our pick as top IndyCar driver of 2020 but his finest season-long run of performances failed to yield the championship. David Malsher-Lopez explains why.

IndyCar
Dec 18, 2020