Fernando Alonso’s Indianapolis 500 debut is on track after the McLaren Formula One driver completed his Rookie Orientation Programme in his very first test at the Brickyard, with Andretti Autosport unveiling a beautiful McLaren orange Dallara-Honda.
After watching Andretti team-mate, and son of team owner Michael, Marco Andretti shake down his car around the famous 2.5-mile Indianapolis oval, Alonso took to the track and reached the necessary average speeds with relative ease to book his place in race week for the 101st Indy 500.
After racing around the Brickyard at average speeds in excess of 222mph, Alonso was able to cut loose once he reached the ROP benchmark, and put in his fastest laps of the day in the early afternoon.
Alonso’s bright orange car resembles the 1976 McLaren that Indy 500 great Johnny Rutherford drove to one of his three victories in the historic race, and while Alonso will be looking to emulate the American’s feat, he will also bid to become the seventh driver to win both a Formula One Grand Prix and the Indy 500.
The 35-year-old will miss the Monaco Grand Prix as a result of his sanctioned commitments across the Atlantic, but given that he has retired from every Grand Prix this season – including failing to start last weekend’s Russian Grand Prix – he is unlikely to miss his McLaren on the weekend of 28 May when the race takes place.
After flying straight to Indianapolis from Sochi, Alonso went through the motions to meet the ROP demands with his fastest first-run lap being clocked at an average of 209 mph, before putting his foot down. "It was fun, it was a good way to start and reach the speed,” Alonso said. “A little difficult at the beginning to reach the speeds, but then the next stages it was fine. At the moment everything looks good... Now I think we start the real deal."
Alonso’s next time out in an Indy Car will not be until the first day of Indy 500 practice on 15 May, the day after the Spanish Grand Prix where Alonso will hope for better fortunes back in F1 in front of his home fans.