Chilton: Alonso did a ‘big favour’ for IndyCar

Date published: December 19 2017

Former F1 driver Max Chilton believes Fernando Alonso's 2017 Indianapolis 500 stint gave the IndyCar Series a boost, but admits it was "good" that he didn't win.

Two-time Formula 1 champion Alonso missed this year's Monaco Grand Prix as he drove for Andretti Autosport in a McLaren-branded car at the Indy 500.

The Spaniard led for 27 laps, but he was forced to retire while he was running P7 after his Honda engine broke with 21 laps remaining.

He was named Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year and also received the 2017 Fastest Rookie award for his four-lap qualifying speed.

Chilton, who was behind the wheel for Chip Ganassi Racing and finished fourth after starting P15, was pleased that Alonso did well.

"With the Indy500 I’ll be trying to win it," the former Marussia F1 driver told Sportsmail. "This year was the race of my life. I was dead last behind Fernando Alonso in the pit-lane and then by lap 80 I was leading it. I now have the experience of leading it so if I’m leading there next year I’ll feel even more comfortable and hopefully we get it done.

"I’ve always rated Alonso as one of the best drivers on the F1 grid if not the best so I know he is incredibly talented and talented people learn quickly. But he did pick it up quicker than I thought he was going to.

"I know some people made comments about him making it look how easy it is. I think it is good for IndyCar that he didn’t win because it would have made us all look a bit stupid.

"But he said some really nice things about how challenging it was and how brave we all are and how he wants to go back to win. So he did a big favour for IndyCar by coming over and racing."