Fernando Alonso, IndyCar, McLaren Andretti, Indianapolis 500, 2017

Alonso: No other race compares to the Indianapolis 500

RaceFans Round-up

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In the round-up: Fernando Alonso describes what makes the Indianapolis 500 special after confirming his return to the race next year.

What they say

Alonso is heading back to Indianapolis with a goal of completing a ‘triple crown’ of motorsport successes:

Well I think this is just about the event itself. It’s very special this race that is completely unpredictable and until the last 20 laps of the race. The whole game is about the 180 laps to be in a position to compete in the last 20. There are all the practice sessions all the qualifyings and the small details that you need to to fine-tune on the setup of the car at those are speeds.

And with 300,000 people watching you in the same place, the same day. So this is something that has no compare with any other race in motorsport. I witnessed that in 2017. [It was] still on my mind even this year when I was in Monaco as soon as I finished the Monaco race I switch on the computer and I watched the full 500.

And next year this opportunity comes again and that I cannot wait to be in Indianapolis once more.

Quotes: Dieter Rencken

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Comment of the day

Do more pit stops really make races more exciting?

I want to see the cars on the track with all of the racing and overtaking done on the track.

I always hated the refueling because it took the racing off the track and shifted it to the pit stops and I feel the tyres are now doing the same, putting too much focus and attention to the off track stuff with overtaking via the over/under-cut which is something i have never found all that interesting.

I preferred it back when you could run a race non stop as it put all of the focus on the racetrack and also put the incentive into trying to pass on the track as you didn’t have an over or undercut back then and races were far better as a result.

Races where tyres are a big factor with two or three stops and a lot of deg are often uninteresting as you don’t get any good fighting. It’s all done via the under-cut and at times the performance difference between different compounds or tyres of different wear doesn’t allow fighting as cars on older tyres or harder compounds often have nothing to fight with which makes for boring slam dunk easy passes that are as bad as the DRS.

I want to see competitive racing where defending is possible so that we get good drawn out fights over many laps which are always far better to watch than an easy tyre/DRS-generated highway pass.
PeterG

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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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  • 29 comments on “Alonso: No other race compares to the Indianapolis 500”

    1. 3 cheers for the COTD. Nice to know there are others of a like mind, thanks @peterg

      1. I’d like to be like-minded like your likes, @hohum.
        But I cannot imagine a race being exciting if there are no pit stops, tyres performing consistently throughout a race, cars losing downforce when following within 2 seconds, and the top car being over a second order lap faster than other cars.

        We’d have the opposite of the concertina effect with gaps only increasing.
        Or do you propose reverse grids as well :P

        1. @coldfly, Ah, yes, well did I mention that my favourite era was 66 to 71, no wings, umpteen different engine configurations etc. It is my view that the FIA made a huge but understandable mistake when they banned the “fan car” but allowed free rein for wings. And yes, safety was abominable, we lost far to many drivers (more than zero) but the racing was great, even if a new design was laps ahead, eventually the other teams adopted the design or found a new one that was even faster.

    2. I agree on sentiment iwth COTD but:
      1. when did they “race non stop”? In the last few decades tyre/fuel/pit stops were always a issue.
      2. when did refueling damages racing? just look at american series or indy500. Refueling and “retyre” is what allow full on stints.
      The current tyres situation is not a tyre situation. Given overtaking is difficult, trying alternative strategies seldom pay off, because track postion is king and queen.
      Pushing in pace has a diminishing return as the pursuer gets closer to the car in front, most of the time does not convert the approach into a overtake, only to get exposed to be overtook as tyres degrade.
      Today, the max-return strategy can be conceived to the point at the mission control rooms, and any step outside the projected boundaries is negative. Thats why we rarely see a change in strategy during races.
      Before being surpassed by the eletric, F1 was surpassed by the digital. Racing was mostly exciting in the past – pre-sensors – because the ultimate test of machine-setup-driver was the full course of the race. Mph was replaces by Mflops.
      Tyres, fuel and pitstops do not damage racing as long as they allow for alternative marginally positive strategies.

      1. They always raced non-stop until they let refueling back in ’94. Some high degradation races would have 1 or 2 stops for some of the runners, but most races I remember without pitstops. The degradation played out over the whole race instead of the tires falling apart like they do now 2 or 3 times a race.

      2. As @darryn, says, We only got re-fueling/regular pitstops because Bernie was fighting to keep his 50% of revenue and thought having refueling would appeal to Americans and give the commentators something to talk about because Americans love their sports statistics and already had refueling in the Indy 500 and other races.

        1. @hohum, maybe that was the case when you began watching, but wasn’t refuelling actually reasonably common during the 1950s, particularly for cars such as the Alfa Romeo 158? Unless you are claiming that Bernie Ecclestone somehow developed the power of time travel to go back to 1950, it strikes me that your overeagerness to have a pop at Bernie and at Americans has made you forget what came before.

          @darryn, when you say “most races I remember without pitstops”, is that really the case, or is that something of a false memory? The 1980s was the era where the teams developed much of the technology to perform fast pit stops: pit stop times had already fallen to 11 second in 1980 (compared to 27 seconds in 1970), dropping to 8 second by 1985 as teams became more proficient at pit stops.

          Integrating tyre stops into the race strategy was pretty common by the end of the 1980s, particularly after tyre blankets were introduced in the mid 1980s and removed one of the disadvantages of pit stops (the time taken to bring the tyres up to temperature). Yes, there were famous examples of drivers trying to go non-stop until the end, but those races became famous because that became an abnormal tactic, not a normal one.

          1. @ANON, Well there you have me, I’m probably just as guilty in that I started following F1 in the sixties when I could scrounge enough money to buy car magazines, my only memories of racing in the 50’s is being taken to a race meeting near Orange NSW (Mt. Canobalas ?), where a tiny yellow car using Jowett Jupiter mechanicals for a rear engine layout that was far more competitive against the much bigger engined dinosaurs (F libre ?) than expected. I have always wondered if Jack Brabham had seen that car and encouraged John Cooper to try a rear engine design in F1.

            1. @ANON, And, I wasn’t “having a pop at Bernie and the Americans” I was paraphrasing Bernie’s explanation of why he was bringing back refueling, a point he made in an interview published at the time.

      3. @maiagus ”when did refueling damages racing?” – Throughout the refuelling era. The refuelling era seasons featured less on-track overtaking moves than any other season. When it was introduced the number of on-track passes immediately plummeted while likewise when it got banned the amount of on-track moves doubled with that being the only significant change in the technical regs from 2009 to 2010.

    3. Honda better step up their game quickly – 1.7 seconds off HAM’s time isn’t good, 10th place or not.
      I don’t see how they can make up 1.5 seconds and more next year considering Mercedes and Red will find more pace also
      but stranger things have happened.

      1. 1.7s is chassis and PU.
        Red Bull vs McLaren (thus chassis only) is more than that! We don’t know how the STR chassis compares to the silver one but that will cover a large chunk of the 1.7s.
        And the rest might be a quali advantage only as the Red Bull with a Renault engine is already very competitive during the race.

    4. I disagree with cotd on the basis of countless races that were won with great strategy and were also fascinating, exciting races e.g. hungary ’98. The current paradigm precludes both wheel to wheel racing and inventive strategy.

      1. @frood19

        countless races that were won with great strategy and were also fascinating, exciting races e.g. hungary ’98

        Hungary 1998 sticks in people’s minds because it was the exception, not the rule.

        By that point, five years after refuelling had been reintroduced, the teams had largely sussed it and there were few surprises. In this case what also gets overlooked is that strategy was only one part of the reason Schumacher got ahead – Hakkinen had slowed with a suspension problem and delayed Coulthard. That cost McLaren so much time Schumacher was able to go off at one point and still get ahead of them.

        We then had a decade more races where refuelling contributed little. Besides Schumacher’s four-stop win at Magny-Cours in 2004 I’m struggling to think of any examples of it contributing in a significant, positive way.

        This is why F1 race strategists don’t believe reintroducing refuelling would make races less predictable:

        https://www.racefans.net/2018/04/27/little-appetite-for-return-of-predictable-refuelling-stops-in-2021/

    5. Glad to hear McLaren and ALO are going back to Indy. ALO had a good time and the fans relished his presence, me included.
      As I see it, Honda is in a bit of a predicament – they refuse to supply an engine to McLaren (if McLaren even wants a Honda engine) they can’t be thrilled about the thought of McLaren/ALO beating them in a Chevy. Adds some drama..
      In any case, I think McLaren winning in a Chevy would be fantastic.
      Can’t wait!

      1. Im guessing Mclaren wont be thrilled by the thought of Honda beating them either ;)

    6. I can’t help but notice that Hamilton’s non-penalty didn’t get its own article. Other drivers tend to get dedicated articles for the slightest controversy, even if it’s a non-punishment. The kind of article that is readily interpreted as an invitation to rage and say nasty things about the driver in question.
      But not so in this case. Instead, what we get is a passing mention of the non-penalty (lumped together with Vettel’s) in an article that details Ricciardo’s point of view, an article detailing Hamilton’s view (that consists in him shifting the blame rather bluntly), aaand another article that rams the point home with Sirotkin absolving Hamilton and Toto Wolff vehemently denying the incident was an issue at all, using a factually dubious quote by Sirotkin (“Sergey came out and said he didn’t lose any time”) to make his point.

      Two thoughts on this:
      – I find it hard to reconcile the incidents (whatever happened to his equally clumsy encounter with Räikkönen? All I hear is “Sirotkin, Sirotkin, Sirotkin”, but no mention of Räikkönen) on the track with the way they’re being reported here. Those were two instances of very erratic driving that very nearly caused an accident and delayed another driver. The fact that there wasn’t even a reprimand for that is a bit odd. I can live with that, but it raises my eyebrows.
      – My impression is that this string of articles goes great lengths in trying to protect Hamilton from any criticism, providing a barrage of authoritative counterarguments against a proboscidean in the room, while never really addressing it as a fact. This sort of asymmetry between the readiness to attack certain drivers, im- or explicilty, on the one hand, and this toothlessness or partisanship when it comes to others, is something I’d consider an important shortcoming of this site.

      1. @nase we all can see you can’t help but notice, with your essay. I believe, personally, the reason for this is because we have persons such as yourself who manage to mention Lewis on articles completely unrelated to him. Some drivers really need it or they would never be mentioned, imo. But not dear Lewis.

        It is for this reason that Keith probably doesn’t find it necessary to publish all the articles that bring his incidents to the spotlight. You and the others continue to do a good job.

        Where is your opinion on Vettel’s antics in qualifying anyway?

      2. @nase, did I misread or were they both not on a slowdown lap?

      3. There is a separate article: https://www.racefans.net/2018/11/10/sirotkin-says-hamilton-did-nothing-wrong-wolff-calls-incident-a-non-issue/

        The quality of the discussion is not very high though, and tends to draw out the one-eyed from both camps.

    7. I agree with the COTD to an extent. Yes, I can see its point, but TBH, races have never really been entirely non-stop. After all, the only thing that really needs fixing (which hopefully, is going to be the case in 2021) is the problem of following another car. The soon that’s fixed then the teams would be more willing to sacrifice track-position by making one or two extra pit stops for a fresh(er) rubber as the risk of getting stuck in traffic wouldn’t be as high as it is at present.

      1. @jerejj, In the 1960’s/70’s pitstops were mostly confined to repairs, punctures or rain/dry tyre changes, only changing weather condition caused the entire field to pit during the race, other pitstops usually ruined a drivers chance of winning.

    8. If McLaren are looking to win unique races, maybe they could take a shot at 24 Hours of Lemons? Alonso already has the enduro experience, and I’m sure they could whip up a competitive car.

    9. Alonso spends a lot of time and effort making sure we all understand that all the things he’s off to do are the best in the world and that he will be the real best in the world when he does them all.

    10. He’s right, if he’s referring to boredom.

    11. Chris (@tophercheese21)
      11th November 2018, 14:45

      That Independent article is brilliant. It’s about time more light were shed on the atrocities that Saudi Arabia are committing. The fact that they’re using sport as a medium of pulling the wool over the rest of the world’s eyes is disgraceful and an indication of just how heinous a regime they are.

      1. Yeh but F1 and other sports aint gonna do something about it thats for sure. They are gonna continue the biggest joke ever known to humanity, that sports aint politics.

      2. Nobody cared about SA until the recent murder in their embassy. SA has been like this forever.

        Now it’s a pop bandwagon for folk to jump on. Usual pathetic nonsense.

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