Alonso Shows His Oval Chops; Passes ROP

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Wednesday, May 3 2017

Fernando Alonso will be driving an Andretti Autosport Honda in the Indianapolis 500 later this month that will be sporting McLaren orange livery.

By John Sturbin | Senior Writer

Meet Fernando Alonso, ovalmeister.

Alonso, a two-time Formula One World Driving champion, completed all three phases of the mandatory Rookie Orientation Program at Indianapolis Motor Speedway Wednesday in his bid to qualify for the 101st running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 28.

Making his oval-track debut, Alonso logged 110 laps around the 2.5-mile IMS oval with a top speed of 222.548 mph while completing the ROP before noon. Alonso will skip the prestigious Monaco Grand Prix _ an event he has won twice _ to compete at IMS in his bid to win the international Triple Crown of Monaco, the Indy 500 and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Alonso, who drives for McLaren Honda in F1, has teamed with Andretti Autosport for the Month of May.  Teammate Marco Andretti, son of team-owner Michael Andretti, shook down Alonso’s traditional McLaren orange No. 29 Dallara/Honda and provided the setup the 35-year-old Spaniard used to complete the ROP.

Alonso described his first time in an Indy car as a “fun” outing. “I think it was a good way to start to get the speed,” Alonso said. “It was a little bit difficult at the beginning to reach the minimum, but then on the next stages (the car) felt good. But yeah, now hopefully we can put some laps and start feeling a little bit of the car because at the moment the car is driving itself _ I am not driving the car.

“I do feel more comfortable (going faster), not because of the speed but because of the laps.

Fernando Alonso passed his Indianapolis 500 Rookie Orientation Program on Wednesday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

You are already 30 laps in or 40 laps in, so you are able to fine-tine and read the lines and upshift, downshift, learn which gear to use in which corner, etc.”

In addition to Andretti, Alonso’s teammates include reigning Indy 500 champion Alexander Rossi _ a former aspiring F1 driver _ and 2014 Indy 500 champion Ryan Hunter-Reay.

“At the moment everything looks good but now we’ll start the real thing,” Alonso said. “The feeling of the simulator is quite realistic and you have the first touch _ the first impression of how it’s going to be. Bu then the real car is just a unique feeling, so when you have to go flat-out in the corners it’s not the same in the simulator that it is in the real car.

“So far, the car has been good; the team is amazingly helpful _ everyone, Marco (especially) this morning. Running alone I think is quite OK. We’ll see later on in the next weeks.”

Alonso’s next F1 start will be in the Spanish Grand Prix on May 14.

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Wednesday, May 3 2017
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