No win but no re­grets as Alonso re­turns to F1

Re­spect for Alonso as he leads Indy 500 be­fore en­gine blows

The Star Early Edition - - MOTORSPORT - STEVE KEAT­ING


Fer­nando Alonso left the Brick­yard on Sun­day with­out a fairy­tale vic­tory to cap his Indy 500 ad­ven­ture but had no re­grets as he pre­pared to re­turn to his For­mula One day job with McLaren.

Alonso’s race fin­ished in much the same way as many of his F1 ef­forts this year, in frus­tra­tion and a blown en­gine with 21 laps re­main­ing of the 200.

Crit­i­cised in some cor­ners for chas­ing Indy 500 glory rather than com­pet­ing in the F1 glam­our race at Monaco, Alonso said he would not have traded his ex­pe­ri­ence for an­other drive around the glitzy Mediter­ranean prin­ci­pal­ity.

“It’s true that be­fore com­ing here some of the ques­tions were how you can trade Monaco race for Indy 500,” Alonso told re­porters af­ter play­fully chug­ging on a car­ton of milk, the tra­di­tional drink of the Indy 500 win­ner.

“I won two times there (Monaco), I won two world cham­pi­onships.

“To drive around Monaco for a sixth place, sev­enth place, even a fifth place ... To be here is not pos­si­ble to com­pare that thing.

“I didn’t miss Monaco in terms of re­sult.”

It was a giddy day for Alonso, who de­liv­ered the pol­ished per­for­mance ex­pected of a for­mer F1 world cham­pion un­til his car’s fail­ure, run­ning up front and even lead­ing for 27 laps of the race won by Ja­pan’s Takuma Sato.

Hav­ing never raced on an oval track or even driven an IndyCar un­til this month, the 34-year-old’s brav­ery and skill won the re­spect of the nearly 300 000 spec­ta­tors who gave him a rous­ing stand­ing ova­tion as his McLaren An­dretti Au­tosport Honda slowed to a stop on the home straight.

“It was a great ex­pe­ri­ence, the last two weeks. I came here ba­si­cally to prove my­self, to chal­lenge my­self,” said Alonso. “I know that I can be as quick as any­one in an F1 car. I didn’t know if I can be as quick as any­one in an IndyCar.

“It was nice to have this com­pet­i­tive feel­ing, even lead­ing the Indy 500.”

Al­though Alonso treated his foray into IndyCar with the se­ri­ous­ness it de­served, it al­most seemed a hol­i­day for the Spa­niard away from the pres­sures of his strug­gling F1 team.

But it was back to re­al­ity on Mon­day ahead of the next stop on the F1 cal­en­dar in Mon­treal on June 11.

“So for the fu­ture, Canada, ob­vi­ously we will try to keep im­prov­ing,” said Alonso. “I think the car seems to be per­form­ing bet­ter and bet­ter.

“I think the sec­ond half of the sea­son will be much more com­pet­i­tive and we will en­joy much more.”

- Reuters

epa05996639 Span­ish driver Fer­nando Alonso of An­dretti Au­tosport (R) leads US driver Alexan­der Rossi of An­dretti

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