Honda to the fore in Indy 500 qualifying, Alonso 26th

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In the round-up: Andretti-Hondas swept the top four places in first qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 while Fernando Alonso, who unsuccessfully tried to get into one of their cars for the race, qualified 26th in his McLaren SP-Chevrolet.

Indianapolis 500 qualifying day one

Fernando Alonso, McLaren SP, Indianapolis, 2020
Alonso was only 26th, but at least qualified
The first day of qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 decided which drivers will compete for the top nine places on the starting grid on Sunday, and fixed the remaining places on the 33-car line-up.

Marco Andretti set the pace with a four-lap average of 372.323kph (231.35mph). He was the first of four Andretti-Hondas in the top four places, while only one Chevrolet-powered driver appeared in the ‘fast nine’. Remarkably, this was Ed Carpenter’s Rinus VeeKay, one of two rookies among the nine, along with Alex Palou for Coyne.

Palou’s fellow Spaniard Alonso could only manage 26th on the 33-car grid. Unlike last year, he and his rivals were at no risk of failing to make the cut, as exactly 33 cars entered. While Honda powered 11 of the top 12 cars, Alonso’s McLaren SP was one of 12 Chevrolets in the bottom 13.

None of the Penske drivers qualified in the top nine. Reigning champion Josef Newgarden will start 13th, Will Power 22nd, last year’s winner Simon Pagenaud 25th and Helio Castroneves 28th.

What they say

Carlos Sainz Jnr said he’s missing the feeling of racing in front of his home crowd this weekend when asked by RaceFans:

Normally Spain has always been a very good hunting ground for me. I’ve always got really, really strong races here, very strong points. And I always feel a bit more nervous in this race, nervous in a positive way, because I see a lot of people cheering for me, like they call it in football the home advantage.

I don’t know if it has something to do with the feeling that I get here and the results I’ve scored here in the past. But I do feel like it’s too much of a coincidence. So I tend to incline that it does make a difference.

So for me this weekend, for not having them and not having the whole crowd here cheering for me, not having all those events that make your life a bit more stressful but also a bit more exciting with the public then it’s definitely different and I’m missing them. And I miss that feeling.

I still put pressure on myself and try to keep that feeling with the fans at home. I’m not sure, but I tend to think that it had a bit of an impact in the past.

Quotes: Dieter Rencken

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Comment of the day

Does F1 need another new rule to make out-laps safer, or does the solution lie elsewhere?

They just need to ask Pirelli to make better tyres that don’t need to be babied as much as the current ones do.

They are far too temperature sensitive with far too small an operating window, That is the only reason they need to be driven so slowly to prevent them either melting and falling to bits or simply been outside the working range and therefore offering no performance.

Not even the extremely soft one-to-two lap qualifying tyres of the eighties and nineties were this extreme in terms of needing to be managed on the out laps. And back then you had more cars with vastly greater performance differences and a far bigger talent difference between drivers on far narrower, More dangerous circuits and much smaller mirrors without the benefit of GPS.

But of course like typical F1 they will probably throw a band aid over the ‘issue’ with a minimum lap time rather than actually working to fix the root of the problem. Another ‘Pirelli rule’ brought in that was never needed when F1 had proper racing tyres

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On this day in F1

  • On this day in 1970 Jacky Ickx won the Austrian Grand Prix after home favourite Jochen Rindt retired with engine trouble after taking pole position. It turned out to be his final grand prix.

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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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27 comments on “Honda to the fore in Indy 500 qualifying, Alonso 26th”

  1. As a long time Marco Andretti fan I would love to see him finally make good on the promise of his first 500!

    On another note, nursing the tyres is nothing new is it.. I remember watching one lap quali live at Silverstone 2003 and Mark Webber particularly was doing a very slow out lap in the Jaguar. Still, the speed they’re doing now is a new low and a bit daft really.

    1. @cduk_mugello I remember that, the jag was almost always on empty tanks.

  2. Marco winning would be sweeeeeeet, fingers crossed for safe q’ing tomorrow, these cars are so darn fast.
    With so many quick guys way back this could be a real interesting race.
    @ I imagine a lot of team owners, not just in NASCAR, are talking about Tim Cindric’s kid Austin… ;)

    1. @budchekov he is far too dangerous and uncontrolled for open wheel racing. Let him stay in NASCAR where he can win by crashing everyone ahead of him and trying to crash those behind. Keep him out of Indycars.

  3. Actually he’s probably far too tall 6’4″…..

  4. COTD,+1, it’s becoming more and more obvious to more F1 fans that the Pirelli tyre experiment has had a severely detrimental effect on F1 racing, the opposite to what Bernie imagined. Bernie is gone, it’s way past time for Pirelli high-degradation tyres to go too.

    1. I didn’t hear Vettel complain about his Pirellis, and he qualified significantly better than Alonso on his Firestones.

  5. I wonder if one day Alonso writes a book
    “How (not) to make wrong decisions and burn bridges throughout your life”

    Yet again, he is in a completely wrong place, all because of all his behavior, words, conflicts and attitude.

    I haven’t ever liked him, but I don’t feel any joy in his unluck.

  6. There are many problems with the tyre issues in F1, and unfortunately anyones best guess at figuring out what exactly is the cause and what are just effects of that cause will probably be wrong.

    At the end of the day (and this is just my assumption) creating good tyres for F1 is probably a bit difficult. The ban on tyre testing I think is the biggest problem of all. Trying to tell Pirelli to go make good tyres when from day 1 they have not had enough time with these cars that are changing, even if ever so slightly every year. That means different loads, different attitudes through corners, and even, different development directions which would impact teams feedback with the limited testing they do get.

    Add to that, the interest in the show. Some of the most applauded seasons in recent memory are when the teams weren’t able to “get a handle on the tyres” and sometimes they worked for one team at one race, and sometimes for a team at another. And stupid overtaking metrics where somewhere, in some fantasy world, more overtakes during a race means they have done a better job with making good tyres.

    Everyone likes to lambast Pirelli, but honestly, from the media we have seen here over the years, they’ve never struck me as unreasonable, let alone incompetent. But that can’t even be judged, without giving them the tools they need to make a pure performance tyre.

    Out of interest, when was the last time open season on tyres was considered? Pirelli won the contract to be the supplier, or there were talks of perhaps a choice between one or two suppliers. But I wonder, historically how long it’s been since teams could just go to a shop and pick (or make fit if they so choose) whatever tyre they wanted. Wouldn’t that cut out any talk at all of tyres being a determinating factor of performance, surely all the manufacturers would converge on a solution eventually.

    1. Nailed it.

    2. On top of that it appears that the brief that Pirelli is/was given for the tyres has been changing every year aswell.
      The same things keep passing the revue, thermal deg, no thermal deg, a cliff or no cliff, tyres that last too long or not last long enough.

      And with every new revision of the tyres there is another team whinging and whining to cover their inability to get the tyre to work.

    3. @skipgamer

      Out of interest, when was the last time open season on tyres was considered?

      2006 was the last year of multiple suppliers. The FIA have mandated a single supplier from 2007 onwards.

      I think Michelin pushed for multiple suppliers to be allowed when they were looking at re-entering after Bridgestone withdrew in 2010 but F1 has rejected it partly for cost reasons but also because they have more control over the way a sole supplier creates it’s product.

  7. The Goat will rise!

  8. Maybe instead of getting in each other’s way and then complaining about the tyres and traffic, teams should start being a little smarter about when they send their cars out in qualifying.

    1. @dbradock They send them out when they do as they all want to have the best of the track conditions which will always tend to be at the end of each segment.

      In Hungary for example I think they were finding as much as 7 tenths towards the end of Q1 due to track evolution & nobody wants to get caught out which is something we have seen happen before if cars go too early or simply opt not to go back out at the end believing they are safe & getting caught out by how much the track improved.

      It’s just the way it’s always been even with the old 1 hour/12 lap format everyone would wait until the end. At times nobody would even bother going out for the 1st 30-40 minutes (See the 2002 USGP session).

      1. @stefmeister – I’m aware of that but its now not really relevant. They are all compromising their tyres because they’re not able to stick to their routines and then end up in a traffic jam.

        Track evolution is all about rubber being put down and temperature change. I can see good reason to hold off as long as possible still in cooling conditions, but the reality is that a car making a run in less traffic a minute or two before the last minute rush is quite likely to reap a reward for having far less aero disruption and still get a reasonable amount of the evolution.

        The fact is – they are all waiting till the last minute and only a small percentage are really getting the benefit – the rest are being compromised. An intelligent team would try something different – they have nothing to lose really.

  9. A ‘minimum’ time for out-laps isn’t possible? People should stop mixing that with ‘maximum’ time, which is something that is already in place and has been for a while. For each event, after Friday’s running, the FIA sets a maximum time within, which drivers have to do their ‘slow’ laps for the remainder of the event in question, and for this weekend it’s 1:29.000.

    1. I understand that that does not include the outlap, @jerejj.

      PS 1:29 seems pretty fast given GIO’s just beating 1:19 when at full speed.

  10. The triple crown is likely to stay elusive for Alonso

    1. He needs to commit to several seasons of competing full time at Indycar, rather than just occasionally dropping in as a driver “tourist” during the Indy 500.

      The drivers he is going up against are very competent and talented (despite F1 elitists thinking otherwise). In addition to that, they’ve got tons of experience racing in ovals and have driven hundreds/thousands of laps in the current spec of cars. Alonso’s a world class racing driver, but even his speed + talent have limitations.

      I think his extreme competitiveness during the 2017 Indy 500 was a case of “ignorance is bliss”: he didn’t really know what to expect, nor did anyone else, so just went for it. Whereas in 2019 (and this year) everyone’s stepped up their game 3 levels or so, Alonso is still probably at a level where he is only sufficiently better than he was in 2017.

  11. Alex Palou, a driver I didn’t even know.of, complains? that the Spanish media is focused on the most famous and most successful Spanish driver ever.


    1. You must only follow F1 then. Most motorsport fan knows who he is. He drove in super formula and now in indycar, and is Spain’s third most popular driver after Alonso and sainz Jr. he is an upcoming star that is probably better then a quarter of the f1 grid. Update your motorsport knowledge, you have been on this site since f1 fanatic days, but notice it is now a racefans site with news from other series? Read that news, it is good. He can say what he wants.

    2. I see his complaint logic.
      If a Spanish media is going to talk about Indy is because Alonso, I know that, but there is another Spanish driver, at least they can say this young guy is doing very well (even better than expected)
      But yeah, Alonso is the main star.

  12. “GP2 Engine” just keeps on biting doesn’t it Fernando. Maybe a bit more humility and a lot less ego might have meant you had a shot at Indy. Honda power is needed to win; time is running out on your opportunities to participate.

    1. The thinking from practice was that the Penske’s (Chevrolet engines, like McLaren) were the fastest, although that could be more on the setup. Outright pace of the engine matters more in qualifying, of course it’s still important in the race but fuel saving is also a big thing, and the handling of the car in traffic.

    2. Fernando was always top 3 fastest Chevy guy during practice. He just screwed himself up when he crashed. Repaired car is not as fast.

  13. I don’t disagree with COTD.

    If they are having to drive as slowly as they are because of the way the tyres are then just look at seeing if Pirelli can improve that rather than introducing more rules (The minimum lap delta) that may well end up creating more problems than it solves.

    If they have the minimum lap delta what happens for example if a driver is outside the required delta due to having to slow down more in places in order to let cars on fast laps past?

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