By entering the 2017 Indianapolis 500, Fernando Alonso has brought some much-needed positive attention to Formula One also-ran McLaren. But what’s more, he’s exposing many people to a form of racing unlike anything they’re used to.
Alonso said Wednesday he’s received many messages from F1 fans telling him they’re glad he’s competing in Sunday’s Indy 500, according to Autoblog. Apparently, fans not only are happy to see Alonso in a competitive car again, but also are grateful he turned them on to the historic race.
“Everyone in Spain, they are waiting for May 28 to watch the race,” Alonso said, via Autoblog. “I received many messages from fans in social media saying, ‘Thanks for showing us this race, because I never watched it before and I absolutely love it.’ ”
It’s no secret some F1 followers think it’s the be-all and end-all of motorsport while mocking American-style racing. To the untrained eye, oval racing seems easy, especially in IndyCar, but as Alonso’s learning curve over the past weeks has shown, that isn’t the case at all.
Although ovals, unlike road courses, only have a handful of corners, they present an entirely unique challenge for drivers. In addition to having to race in traffic and deal with turbulent air, racers constantly have to adjust things such as anti-roll bars and weight jackers inside the cockpit to keep their cars properly balanced.
Somebody with the username UncleElias recently put it best when they admitted in the comment section of a Motorsport.com article that they didn’t fully understand the intricacies of the sport into Alonso’s experience.
“I never realized how much and continuous in-car re-balancing was done inside an IndyCar,” UncleElias wrote. “My respect for oval driving increased tremendously.”
Although some people’s reaction to the Spaniard’s decision to race in the 500 has shown there still are F1 fans who think American single-seater racing isn’t important, it’s nice to know not everybody shares that belief. Regardless of where he finishes in the race, Alonso at least is helping oval racing get some long overdue respect from European race fans.
Thumbnail photo via Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports Images