Alonso refusing to play it safe in Indy 500

Fernando Alonso says he will not play it safe in the early stages of Sunday’s Indianapolis 500 despite his lack of oval racing experience.

Alonso refusing to play it safe in Indy 500
Fernando Alonso, Andretti Autosport Honda
Fernando Alonso, Andretti Autosport Honda
Fernando Alonso, Andretti Autosport Honda
The car of Fernando Alonso, Andretti Autosport Honda
Fernando Alonso, Andretti Autosport Honda
Fernando Alonso, Andretti Autosport Honda
Fernando Alonso, Andretti Autosport Honda
Fernando Alonso, Andretti Autosport Honda

The McLaren Honda Andretti driver, who starts the race from the middle of the second row in fifth place, believes it is not possible to go into the race with a set plan.

But despite knowing he doesn’t need to be as aggressive as he is at the start of Formula 1 grands prix given the opportunities that will arise early in the race, he does not think it’s possible to take it easy.

“I don’t have a plan for the beginning of the race,” said Alonso. “In Formula 1, we are used to playing all of our cards in the first couple of corners because the positions are defined after that, but here it is very different.

“But I cannot say that I will play it safe at the beginning of the race because everyone else will take advantage of that. So I need to keep very open to what is going to happen and if I can run in a comfortable group, I will be happy.

“If I am falling behind, I will be calm and later on in the race be competitive. And if I am competitive at the beginning, I will not slow down to lose places.

“The race will put you in the position you deserve, so let’s see what happens.”

Alonso accepts he faces a steep learning curve in the race, suggesting that he has not gone into a race with so much uncertainty since his International F3000 season in 2000. The 35-year-old has not done a rolling start since he was in karting, and has not yet done an IndyCar pitstop or restart in race conditions.

Asked by Motorsport.com when he last went into a race with as much uncertainty as he will in the Indy 500, he replied: “Probably Formula 3000 where you have the same cars, more or less. While in Formula 1, you always have your strengths and your weaknesses, you know what is the best place to attack, what is your moment of the race.

“Maybe it’s the start, maybe it’s later in the race, maybe it’s the tire degradation, but you always have different performance compared to the teams around you.

“Here, more or less, the performance is the same so that creates some good prospects for everyone on the grid and makes the fans happy and excited about the race.

“So that’s the biggest thing and that last time probably was 16 or 17 years ago.”

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