Fernando Alonso’s first IndyCar qualifying session might not have gone as smoothly as he would’ve liked, but we’d be surprised if he isn’t pleased with his result.
Alonso will start the Indianapolis 500 on the second row after he qualified P5 on Sunday, despite a turbocharger issue in the middle of his run, Motorsport.com reports. The Spaniard’s average speed during the session was 231.300 mph, compared to Scott Dixon’s 232.164 mph that secured him pole.
The two-time Formula One world champion suggested he could’ve challenged Dixon for pole, or at least landed on the first row, had it not been for an overboost issue on the second lap of his run. In IndyCar, if turbo boost pressure exceeds the amount allowed under the regulations — 20.305 psi in Indy 500 qualifying — then the ECU reduces the engine’s power output.
“I had an overboost problem on Lap 2 out of the last corner and it was like hitting the brakes,” Alonso told Motorsport.com. “I went one gear down and started again picking up the speed.”
That wasn’t Alonso’s first niggle of the day either, as his team detected issues in the morning practice session that almost kept him from running in quali. Andretti Autosport, however, was able to get his No. 29 running again, showcasing the benefits of running six cars.
“The practice felt good, then we spotted some issues with the engine,” Alonso said, via Motorsport.com. “At one point, we didn’t know if we were able to run in qualifying because we had to change the whole engine.
“The team was amazing, there were guys from all six cars working on car No. 29 to make it possible. So thanks to the teamwork, I was able to go out.”
Although Alonso thinks he could’ve gone faster if he had a problem-free run, he said landing in the Fast Nine was the most important thing for him.
Considering how little experience Alonso has driving IndyCars and racing on ovals, his qualifying result is extremely impressive. Given the pace he showed, if he has a relatively clean race May 28, he could well become Andretti’s second rookie to win the Indy 500 in as many years.
Thumbnail photo via Thomas J. Russo/USA TODAY Sports Images