Autosport (UK) - - PIT + PADDOCK/LETTERS -

TAKUMA SATO COULDN’T HAVE CHO­SEN A bet­ter time to win the In­di­anapo­lis 500. The eyes of the world­were on the Brick­yard back in May, due to Fer­nando Alonso’s de­ci­sion to con­tes tt he race­in­stead of the Monaco Grand Prix. Alonso starred,but i tw as his An­dretti Au­tospor tt eam-mate Sato who tri­umphed.

“There was no doubt he would learn very quickly, and in­deed he did,” says Sato. “He went to the sim­u­la­tor each morn­ing,andthen the af­ter­noon was ac­tual track test­ing. The Indy 500 is ac­tu­ally the best race for a rookie be­cause, un­like the other races where you have just two 45-minute ses­sions and then you go straight into qual­i­fy­ing, at the 500 you have a week of prac­tice from noon to 5 or 6pm, so plenty of time to learn. Fer­nando was smil­ing ev­ery sin­gle day – he looked to be en­joy­ing it and he was en­joy­ing it. We talked a lot – de­briefs and pri­vately – and he had great fun and showed tremen­dous speed im­me­di­ately.”

Could Alonso have won without his engine fail­ure? Sato isn’t sure: “The first and last quar­ter of the race are com­pletely dif­fer­ent an­i­mals, and the

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