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Alonso ‘didn’t have one lap of kindness’ in troubled Indy

by Edd Straw
4 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Fernando Alonso says he “didn’t have one lap of kindness” after a clutch fault cost him his place on the lead lap on his way to 21st in the Indianapolis 500.

The Arrow McLaren SP driver was delayed in the pits by a problem with the electronically-operated clutch, which meant he had to bump start the car after a push from his crew in order to rejoin.

But even before dropping off the lead lap, Alonso did not appear destined for a top result as his car only showed midfield pace.

“We were struggling from the very beginning” :: Fernando Alonso

He was on course for a finish in the mid-teens prior to the problem, but believes that improvements made to the car over the first half of the race mean he could have had a stronger finish had his Dallara-Chevrolet run trouble-free.

“It was a very eventful race for us, we didn’t have one lap of kindness let’s say,” said Alonso.

“We were struggling from the very beginning with the balance of the car with a lot of oversteer.

Fernando Alonso Arrow McLaren SP Indianapolis 500 2020

“We kept changing that balance in the pitstops, reducing the front flap, doing tyre adjustments and then we started to be happy with the car.

“We were up to P15 around lap 110, which is where we wanted to be. We spent half the race going from P26 to P15 and then we had a clutch problem on the car that we didn’t know how to solve.

“We finished the race without the clutch, so from that point on every pitstop we had to push the car, engage the gear and go.

“That cost us a lap and unfortunately, we kept that lap down until the end and we could not achieve anything more.”

Alonso started 26th after a lacklustre qualifying run, with his progress through practice hindered by a crash on the second day.

He pitted under the early-race caution period triggered by James Davison’s Dale Coyne entry suffering a front-right wheel fire, which put him out of synch with the leaders.

But Alonso was then called in at the second caution after Marcus Ericsson crashed, putting him back on the same schedule as the frontrunners.

He came close to going a lap down in the middle stages of the race, but leader Scott Dixon opted to sit behind Alonso to assist with his fuel-saving efforts.

Fernando Alonso Arrow McLaren SP Indianapolis 500 2020

A caution period was then triggered by Dalton Kellett’s crash, which allowed Alonso to pit with the leaders on lap 87 and retain his place on the lead lap.

He took the restart in 16th place and had a solid stint while also attempting to save fuel for strategic reasons before suffering the clutch problem when he made a pitstop under caution after Alex Palou crashed.

His 21st place was three places better than the 24th position he was classified in on his first start at Indy in 2017 – when he retired with an engine failure with 29 laps to go – but means his latest attempt to complete the ‘Triple Crown of Motorsport’ was thwarted.

Alonso will not return to the Indy 500 in 2021-22 thanks to his Renault F1 commitments, meaning he cannot return to The Brickyard to attempt to complete the Triple Crown of Indy, Le Mans 24 Hours and Monaco Grand Prix wins again until at least 2023.

But despite failing to achieve his objective of winning the race, Alonso was positive about having made the finish.

“I’m happy to finish the race, cross the line and have one 500 miles in the pocket, that’s the positive thing,” said Alonso.

Fernando Alonso

“The negative is that we were out of contention very quickly with the clutch problem.

“Anyway, I think the Arrow McLaren SP team was fantastic during the race, the strategy and pitstops meant we were always gaining positions. I’m very proud of the work we’ve done over the last couple of weeks.

“We tried to race but luck was not with us today, but I’m proud of the effort from everyone in the team.”

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