The McLaren racing orange made its first public appearance at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as double world champion Fernando Alonso steps behind the wheel of the Andretti Autosport-run Dallara-Honda in prepartion for the Indy 500.
Alonso will compete in IndyCar’s major race at the famous 2.5-mile oval instead of the Monaco Grand Prix, which is on the same weekend.
The McLaren and Andretti Autosport’s IndyCar is entirely bedecked in traditional orange colours, as used when it last won the Indianapolis 500 with Johnny Rutherford in 1976, bar a silver strip at the front of the nose section.
Alonso conducted a rookie orientation programme in preparation for the Indy 500. The Formula 1 racer completed a series of runs, steadily improving his speed as Fernando gained confidence on the oval.
Event rookies have to complete laps within prescribed speed ranges to be eligible for participation in the 500 and before they are allowed to run at full pace.
Alonso’s target was to cover ten laps at 205-210mph, 15 laps at 210-215mph, and then 15 laps between 215mph and 220mph.
He achieved this over a total of 51 laps spread across four runs in his first hour on track in his McLaren/Honda/Andretti-entered Dallara, posting a fastest average lap speed of 219.654mph.
Speaking after completing the rookie programme, Alonso said: “It was fun, it’s a good way to start, to build the speed.
“It was probably a little bit difficult in the beginning to reach the minimum [speed], but then on the next stages it felt good.
“Now hopefully we can put some laps in and start feeling the car – at the moment the car is driving myself, I am not driving the car.
“I do feel more comfortable, just because with 30 laps, 40 laps in the pocket you can fine tune the lines, which gear to use in which corner.
“At the moment everything looks good, but now starts the real thing.”
So a good first day feeling after a series of runs. It’s going to be a challenge for Alonso to qualify and then race in the Indianapolis 500. Best of luck Fernando.
— McLarenHondaAndretti (@McLarenIndy) May 3, 2017