Fernando Alonso has been cleared to take part in the qualifying session for the Indianapolis 500 (Indy 500) after the Spaniard completed his initiation test on Wednesday at the Brickyard.
The two-time Formula One world champion was at the wheel of the Honda powered Andretti Racing Indycar that he will be driving at the Indy 500 event on 28 May. He completed his orientation and then began testing in order to familiarise himself with the new machinery and the unique oval track on which he will race.
Alonso is set to skip the Monaco Grand Prix this season in order to race at the famed Indianapolis motor speedway oval in his bid to become the greatest driver in the world. He has set his sights on becoming the second man after Graham Hill to win the motor racing's esteemed triple crown, which involves winning in Monaco, which he has already won twice, and claiming wins at the 24-hour Le Mans race and the Indy 500.
The 35-year-old was delighted after his first experience in the car and needed just 50 laps to complete his orientation. Every driver appearing for the first time at Indy 500 has to go through the initiation process, which involves successfully completing three phases of running - 10 laps each at an average of 205-210mph; followed by 15 at 210-215mph; and 15 at 215-220mph.
"So far it is a good experience but now starts the real thing," Alonso after his orientation, as quoted by BBC Sport. "It has been a very helpful day in terms of knowing all this different world and getting up to speed a little bit. There's still a long way to go but I am happy with this first step."
"It is a good way to start to build the speed. It was probably a little bit difficult at the beginning to reach the minimum but then in the phases it felt good.
"At the beginning, the right foot has its own brain and it was not connected to my brain. I wanted to go flat-out but the foot wouldn't let me. But after a few laps it was fine," the F1 star added.
Alonso began his test program with the Andretti Motorsport team with whom McLaren have partnered after completing his rookie test and ended the day with a fastest lap of 222.548mph. The Spaniard's time was just over eight miles-per-hour slower than last year's pole position time.
"Everything went fine so far. The circuit looks so narrow when you are at that speed. I was trying different lines but I was not as comfortable as I probably will be in a couple of weeks' time," he added.
Alonso will return to F1 duties next week ahead of his home Grand Prix in Barcelona, but will be back to Indy 500 testing just one day after the race at the Circuit de Catalunya on 14 May. Every driver has 30 hours of testing over five days leading up to the qualifying weekend on 21 and 22 May with pole position decided on Sunday.
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