Starting 26th on the Indianapolis 500 grid, Fernando Alonso acknowledges that winning Sunday’s race will be a “huge challenge”.
This year the double Formula 1 World Champion is back at the Indianapolis Speedway for his third attempt at the Indy 500.
Alonso needs the win to become only the second driver in motor racing’s history to win the Triple Crown. That’s F1’s Monaco GP, WEC’s 24 Hours of Le Mans and IndyCar’s Indianapolis 500.
His first two attempts were cut short by an engine failure while racing for Andretti Autosport in 2017 while in 2019 he didn’t even make the starting grid, failing to make the 33-car field.
This year he’s in, one of the 33 drivers set to start Sunday night’s race.
But, starting 26th on the grid, the McLaren driver admits it won’t be easy grabbing the Indy trophy, and the bottle of milk.
“I came here to win, but it’s a huge challenge,” he told the Spanish media.
“I could have gone to Barcelona to be with Renault, but I came here like I went to the Dakar.
“I know how difficult it is to be competitive here, and we saw it in qualifying, but that doesn’t change my prospects for the race.”
The Spaniard acknowledges that his hopes of a better start position were hurt by his practice crash in Day Two’s practice.
Exiting Turn 4, Alonso clipped the concrete apron with his left front wheel and made contact with the SAFER Barrier .
The No66 Ruoff Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet driver was pitched into a half spin before sliding into the inside pit wall.
Day 2 of practice was put to a halt after this @alo_oficial crash.
— Indy 500 on NBC (@IndyCaronNBC) August 13, 2020
“In my case it [his grid position] is perhaps understandable after the accident, which forced us to rebuild parts of the car and work more carefully,” he said.
“I have a lot to do in this race, I know that, but we will try because luck can always smile on us.”
2019 will be Alonso’s final attempt as already his 2021 Formula 1 team boss, Cyril Abiteboul, has said he won’t give the Spaniard permission to enter next year’s race.
“I can be very clear that once he is with us that is for good and for a while, so no distraction,” he explained.