Because racing drivers make their living by traveling upwards of 200 mph, many people often assume they’re fearless. But even the most talented racers have their limitations.
Fernando Alonso got his first taste of what it’s like to race on an oval during a test session Wednesday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and with it came a better understanding of the challenge he will face during the Indianapolis 500.
For somebody who’s spent his entire career on road courses, entering a turn in excess of 220 mph is something entirely new. So, after the morning session, Alonso — while smiling from ear to ear — gave his reaction to the extreme high-speed cornering, via IndyCar’s YouTube channel.
“At the beginning, I have to be honest, the right foot has his own brain, his own power,” Alonso told NBC Sports reporter Robin Miller, “and you know it was not connected to my brain.
“I wanted to be flat-out, but you know the right foot has its own life.”
Despite taking it easy at the start of the test, Alonso progressively built speed throughout the day, completing his required Rookie Orientation Program on schedule. As of 3:15 p.m. ET, the Spaniard’s fastest unofficial lap was clocked at 222.548 mph, according to Marshall Pruett; for perspective, James Hinchcliffe’s pole lap for the 2016 Indy 500 was 230.760 mph.
“Now, I’m more in control with my body, in control with the car, so I’m able to be flat-out,” Alonso said.
We’re hardly surprised Alonso got used to running on the 2 1/2-mile oval so quickly, though it still is a bit weird to see a McLaren going that fast on the straights.