Fernando Alonso, McLaren Honda Andretti, IndyCar, Indianapolis, 2017

Alonso says IndyCar feels “more raw” than F1 after first test

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Fernando Alonso says the role of the driver is more important in IndyCar than in F1 following his first test in preparation for the Indianapolis 500.

The McLaren driver completed his Rookie Orientation Programme which is necessary in order for him to be able to compete in the event, by driving a series of laps at maximum average speeds of up to 345kph [215mph].

Fernando Alonso, McLaren Honda Andretti, IndyCar, Indianapolis, 2017
Pictures: Alonso’s first IndyCar test
Afterwards Alonso was asked how the four corners at Indianapolis Motor Speedway compare to the quickest bend in Formula One.

“130R in Suzuka probably is 320 or 330kph [205mph],” said Alonso. “It feels different, I think in Formula One the feeling of just the steering wheel, power steering and all the helps we have it feels a little bit easier.”

“Also the level of downforce, the sophistication of Formula One, gives you a little bit more grip, a bit more predictable car. Here is just more raw, everything is more racing. It’s definitely faster and different.”

“But at the end of the day we all started in go karts, in small categories, probably we miss that kind of feeling when you get to Formula One and you have everything under control, every single millimetre. Here it’s more driver input in different phases of the corner.”

Alonso tried to tackle turn one flat out at his first attempt after team mate Marco Andretti, who shook down his car for him, did the same. But Alonso revealed he found himself backing off involuntarily.

“It was OK I think thanks to the rookie thing,” he said. “The first couple of laps you lift off, then you go in the corner, so you start feeling the grip, the car and you try to follow that target you need to reach at the end of the lap. That was one thing.”

“And then at one point they told me OK, you’re done with all the limitations, you just need to do now 15 laps about 215 [mph]. So run as free as you feel.”

Fernando Alonso's McLaren Honda Andretti IndyCar, Indianapolis, 2017
Pictures: Alonso’s McLaren Honda Andretti IndyCar
“I knew that Marco was flat out in turn one. So I said ‘I will do flat out now in turn one because the car is able to do it’.”

“So arrived to turn one and I was convinced one hundred percent that I was going flat out but the foot was not flat out. It has its own life, it was not connected with my brain. At the second or third lap I was able to do it.”

“It was a very good feeling, to be able to feel the respect of the place, the respect of the car, the speed, it’s something that for any racing driver is just pure adrenaline.”

Alonso’s next IndyCar test will take place on the day after the Spanish Grand Prix, which is the first day of practice for the Indianapolis 500. The first two hours of the test are given over to the Rookie Orientation Programme which he has already completed. The rest of the race schedule is as follows:

DaySession
Monday 15th MayPractice
Tuesday 16th MayPractice
Wednesday 17th MayPractice
Thursday 18th MayPractice
Friday 19th MayPractice
Saturday 20th MayPractice and Qualifying
Sunday 21st MayPractice and Qualifying
Monday 22nd MayPractice
Friday 26th MayPractice
Sunday 28th MayIndianapolis 500

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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Posted on Categories 2017 F1 season, Fernando Alonso, IndyCar

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  • 63 comments on “Alonso says IndyCar feels “more raw” than F1 after first test”

    1. Does anyone else not care about Alonso doing Indy 500? Or is it just me?

      1. Time of comment says I made it 15 minutes before I actually did? Very weird…

        1. Yup, over here it’s even an hour and 14 minutes in front (22:08 while it’s 23:22 over here). I’m actually an hour ahead of GMT time, which I expect to be used by default on this site, but nonetheless it should normally be adjusted automatically.

      2. Then don’t click on articles about Alonso doing Indycar.

        1. Awesome :)

      3. Mark (@surfermark)
        3rd May 2017, 22:38

        You obviously cared enough to click on the link!!

        1. And post a comment :)

      4. One half million people were watching him live on streaming! I’d say a LOT of people care.

        1. @Don where was it being streamed? Do you have the link?

      5. Life is too short to not have a bit of fun when you can. :-)

      6. and yet within 10 minutes you commented on this article :p

      7. mark jackson
        3rd May 2017, 23:08

        At one point Alonso’s solo test session had over 75,000 viewers on Youtube. That’s more than the attendance of some F1 races! So, yea it’s probably just you.

      8. nope, i care and it is why i’m here.

      9. I love Alonso doing IndyCar. I think they should race where they like if they can get it. Harks back to the days of drivers and teams running from one series to enough for the challenge of it. All power to him. And well done McLaren for opening the door. Of course, if he crashes, then there will be people pointing and wagging fingers.

        1. Pink Peril
          4th May 2017, 0:32

          Nope, it’s just you. I can’t wait for that weekend to watch it all. In fact, might even take the Monday off work to recover.

      10. Doesn’t matter if your a fan or not, this is very exciting for motorsport in general. Not many other drivers will ever get the chance to do this or go for a triple crown. Enjoy it for what it is

        1. I’m excited for the same reason. It’s rare to see a driver try something like the triple crown, especially a commitment bound formula 1 driver.

          Also looking forward to his le mans experience this year. It’s a long shot… But if he manages to seal the triple crown this year, it would be massive for motorsport in general.

          1. @todfod, he won’t be competing at Le Mans this year – Porsche and Toyota have already announced their line ups for the 24 Hours (including the third car for Toyota), so there are no seats available in that class.

      11. Just you.

        1. Just you, go change your damp diaper.

          I grew up watching Indy and then fell in love with F1. This goes back to the old days of drivers getting into all kinds of cars and showing what they can do.

          PS, I once drove an Indy car for 20 laps around Vegas. HARD as hell and no power steering. I maxed at 160mph not 220mph like Alonso.

          1. Interesting. What vintage was the car in question?

      12. Just you, go change your damp diaper.

        I grew up watching Indy and then fell in love with F1. This goes back to the old days of drivers getting into all kinds of cars and showing what they can do.

        PS, I once drove an Indy car for 20 laps around Vegas. HARD as hell and no power steering. I maxed at 160mph not 220mph like Alonso.

      13. Ahhh, yer too young to remember the 1960’s & the mix of drivers from over The Pond, that way, UK etc. Great days! Their mix with ours. It was a sight to be seen. Of course us on this side wanted AJ, Lloyd, Dan, Parnelli, The Under Brothers, Mario et al to win, but, it was a hell of a dynamic!

      14. Fukobayashi (@)
        4th May 2017, 10:23

        Just you mate.

      15. You are lying you do care. Really cool to watch a test if that alone. Indy produced a great coverage great stream, Mario was there he was really enthusiastic, johnathan was also present and in orange. Everyone there is excited. Above all its cool thing to witness.

    2. One correction: after the ROP (Rookie Orientation Program) he was allowed to go faster and hence set a fastest average speed of 358.156 kph (222.548 mph).

      The POR was three phases:
      Phase 1: 10 laps between 205 and 210 mph
      Phase 2: 15 laps between 210 and 215 mph
      Phase 3: 15 laps between 215 and 220 mph

      After completing this he went of for 43 more flying laps where he was allowed to go full speed.

      Anyway, it was awesome to see him drive this car. The fantastic camera work in the live IndyCar YouTube feed showed the car head on along the straights so you could see all steering corrections and how deep he entered each corner. I’ve never really followed IndyCar or Indy 500, except for Montoya’s early championship career and all his Indy 500 entries, but I’ll be watching this year again as well.

      1. I’ll be watching this year again, too.

      2. I was kind of disappointed he didn’t cross the 225 mph mark. I thought that would really be throwing the gauntlet down in your first test.

        They say the hardest gap to fill is between 220 to 230 mph. The entire grid hits 220mph, but only a fraction hit the 230 mph mark.

        1. Andretti were at first baffled by the pace but in the end he I heard Michael say that without some of the downforce “224” was on the cards but the “track was green” . It was quite cold also, perhaps too cold, cold can be good if not too cold.

    3. This was the easiest setup to drive. It’s a whole another world with the car trimmed out with as little downforce (= more speed / scary handling) and 32 other cars on track. The turbulence will completely change things.

      Watch qualifying if you can. The cars will have as little downforce as they dare drive them with, more boost, and 4 laps driving at the ragged edge. Drivers say it is the most frightening qualifying of their lives. Get ready to hold your breathe watching!

    4. Interesting to hear Alonso’s comments on the differences between F1 and IndyCar currently. What a joy for him to get a chance to do this. Fun for the fans too. Also, it must be a pleasure to be able to drive his race car at speed to the limit, rather than merely driving to the engine’s shortcomings.

    5. Alonso had a great day today; Fastest Lap and first to cross finish line.

      Has been years since he’s done that ;)

      1. Additionally, he actually took a Honda engine above 220 mph without it blowing to bits.

        1. yup, it’s been a while since Honda was able to give him a car able to do over 60 laps!

    6. F1 screwed themselves by introducing too much aero. F1 is in trouble. Alonso is doing what he must just to stay relevant. As you or I would. Or, maybe you wouldn’t cause your so in love with F1 (as I am). It’s not good for F1 cause one of the best drivers the world has ever seen must bail just to race. Indy is soaking it up cause F1 attention is now at Indy.

      I wanted to eat my words sooo bad when I posted on here that F1 is toast. I still want to eat em. But it aint gonna happen. They f’ed up the formula. Now we pay. No matter how bad F1 gets, we are going to keep watching. We love it. It’s the BEST. But we now watch it with pity because the smartest and sharpest people in the world have no clue what they are doing. If you cannot follow due to aero wash, no not introduce more. But they did. Ugh.

      1. do not introduce more*

      2. IndyCar went down the super high downforce road when they introduced the aero kits. They are making over 5500 pounds of downforce on road courses. With no power steering and the gigantic aero wash the cars produce, it makes it very difficult to pass. The cars are incredibly hard to drive because of the weight of the steering at speed. Next years cars will look like proper IndyCars and have less downforce generated from the top of the car, and most of the downforce from the bottom of the car greatly reducing the aero wash. They run much less downforce on the super speedways. I believe F1 will go the same direction lowering downforce to increase overtaking.

      3. Uh… Indy is getting more global attention (i.e. relevance) because Alonso is coming to it, not the otherway around. Outside of the states Indycar isn’t very relevant at all. Here there’s only 2 minute highlights once a year from the Indy500. In most countries it isn’t shown at all.

        1. @jeffreyj, as you say, IndyCar racing is a relatively insignificant sport outside of the US, and even within the US it is very much a minority interest.

          If anything, they have been much more desperate for a major publicity boost because they’ve been losing viewers in recent years – even with a major publicity blitz during their centenary event last year, the viewing figures went down again – and I believe that they might have even failed to get enough entrants for this year (last time I checked, they only had 31 out of 33 entries filled).

      4. Hahaha. No. If it weren’t for Alonso, no F1 fan would care right now.

        I actually tried watching the Indy 500 last year in full, but I got bored less than halfway through. Must have been 5 cautions by that point.

      5. @me The only thing constant is change. If I were you I’d give the new management at F1 some time to tweek things. They’re saying all the right things and they’ve only had a very short time at this so far. F1 is not in trouble. They have all the potential in the world. FA didn’t ‘bail’…a lot of people had to be behind this one-off occurrence. Be patient and give the new regime a chance to put their ideas into motion. Surely you know that can’t happen overnight.

    7. This makes Indy a must watch now

    8. As someone who religiously watches f1 and indycar/cart since the late 90s this is the most hype ive seen around the 500. Its great for both indycar and f1 where some indycar fans will get interested in f1 and vise versa. Also i want Alonso to do well but even if you are driving the best at the 500 everything has to go well, driver, car, strategy heck last place can win if they get lucky with yellows ahhhh im so excited. I know im dreaming but it would be awesome if f1 could not race on the same weekend as le man and the 500 so drivers can compete i cant think of any down sides other than a case of a driver getting injured

    9. Yes Alonso, a lot less downforce on a Super Speedway. Get used to it, there will be less and less to make the car faster. It will be harder to drive, and even harder yet with turbulence from other cars.

      IndyCars have ridiculous levels of downforce available on road courses, more than F1 cars they say.

    10. In comparision to the 130R maybe the speeds are similar, but the time spent at that speed and with those g-forces, it’s completely different. That must be a serious blow for a driver so used to road courses. It’s like a veeeeeeery long and faster Blanchimont. Over and over and over again. The stress must be phenomenal.

      It says a lot that a driver of that calibre lifted instinctively.

    11. I bet those birds were pretty raw after he hit them. A puff of feathers and they were ex-avian.

      1. Ex-parrot…

    12. Hopefully Fred doesn’t put it into the wall going 233 on race day , Flavio would starve.

      1. Fred who?

    13. I found it very odd that Alonso didn’t know how to translate kph into mph and vice versa. He apparently doesn’t even know the basic point of reference for large speeds, being 200mph = 320kph.

      That’s even weirder having seen him asking the chief mechanic about the speed of the pace car, to which the response was “around 100”. So he might have understoon that one wrong.

      1. Why would he know that – mph is really an obscure and ridiculous measure to still be using in the modern world (particularly in such an engineering driven area) and until Alonso went to Indy he had probably never had use to know the conversion. I also expect he would struggle to convert feet to cm, lb to grams etc for the same reason.

        1. In metric, one millilitre of water occupies one cubic centimetre, weight one gram, and requires one calorie of energy to heat up by one degree centigrade, which is 1% of the difference between its freezing point and its boiling point.

          In imperial, the amount of energy that it takes to boil a gallon of water at room temperature is, no one has time for this really…

          1. Brilliant

    14. I ended watching over an hour of the livestream, I found it some of the most fascinating motorsports TV I’ve watched in a long long time. Somewhat surprising considering that there was just one car, and it wasn’t even on the track for large portions of it.

      It just wasn’t as dumbed down as most race broadcasts, they had full access to the radio and stuck a microphone into the trackside debriefs whenever they could. This, alongside a great choice of experts, really helped the viewer understand what is going on from the engineering side (which is never really possible during race broadcasts). Then when they really didn’t have anything Alonso-related to talk about they had a bunch of brilliant flashback segments to classic Indy500s – or one of Robin Miller’s excellent anecdotes from his many decades in racing.

      Shows what’s possible with a little more access to the teams, a little less dumbing down for “casual fans” and a simple YouTube stream. Hope it gives Liberty some ideas for F1 testing.

      1. Funny, isn’t it. So many of us just watching this one car doing laps, testing on the awesome speedway @graham228221. I got excited before he even got into the car, I loved hearing Mario Andretti talk about it with Rutherford.
        And then it gave me goosebumps to see Alonso do those first laps.

        This is great for motorsport. Do more, get us excited and enjoy the speed of it. I think that having up to half a million people tuning in for this test is a huge win for motorsports. One it should take and build upon.

        1. @bascb

          Totally agree. Apparently over 2m people tuned in worldwide. To put that into context, that’s roughly equivalent to the average number of people who tune in for the Channel 4’s F1 race broadcasts.

          Just demonstrates that there are huge numbers of people out there who love motorsport and want to watch it.

      2. Couldn’t agree more. I watched about an hour and a half on my commute home and I was glued to my iPhone screen. The commentary and access the TV people had was great. I have always been moderately baffled by some of the things that happen in IndyCar but I learned so much watching yesterday.

        It was the most interesting and insightful motorsport broadcast I have watched for ages…

    15. SevenFiftySeven
      4th May 2017, 9:29

      “So arrived to turn one and I was convinced one hundred percent that I was going flat out but the foot was not flat out. It has its own life, it was not connected with my brain. At the second or third lap I was able to do it.”

      “It was a very good feeling, to be able to feel the respect of the place, the respect of the car, the speed, it’s something that for any racing driver is just pure adrenaline.”

      Beautifully said. The guy may appear one dimensional (euphemism for something bad) at the outset, but comments like these show Alonso’s humility and respect for the trade he practices. And, he is well aware of what his strengths and weaknesses are, regardless of whether he’s faster in the corners compared to competing backmarkers or not.

    16. i’m more excited to watch Alonso race the indy 500 than I am for the remaining F1 races this year (apart from Spa).

    17. He will be back to his normal bashing as soon as he seems himself in the back of the group..

    18. That photo needs a caption:

      Fernando: HURRY!!! GET THEM CLOROX WIPES!!! BIRD WATCH GROUPS COMING THIS WAY.

    19. The sound of the indycar engine was super awesome. A single car running on the track and such sweet noise :)

      Hope some of you enjoyed that aspect too !!

    20. Not knowing anything about Indycar I decided to check out some of the footage on YouTube of Alonso’s practice runs. I really liked it! Everything seems to feel more ‘real’ as you are much closer to the action. I really hope LG will bring that feeling to F1 as wel. Might the audio also be done better?

      In any case, I really don’t like how those indy cars look from the front. Only seeing the front wheels makes the car look handicapped in some way.

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